Thursday, January 5, 2012

If you only read one post about Camp Jake, this should be it

The past 36 hours has held so many treasured moments that, like an artist staring at a blank canvas, we feel the weight of a blank blog post on our shoulders. It’s challenging to put such an fun and emotional time into sufficient words and even have a clue where to start. So here’s our best effort. Keep in mind that we are sleep and caffeine deprived this morning!

To put it simply, Camp Jake is transforming lives.

Children that we have known for a year who have never uttered a word in our presence were observed having full conversations in Kreyol; an immobile teen picked up her cup, brought the straw to her lips and gave herself a drink, among many other things we had no idea she was capable of; a non-ambulatory child danced with assistance and responded fervently to live music; kids hoisted themselves out of wheelchairs into the pool to splash and roll around in the shallow areas; blind children trusted the counselors to take them swimming, kicking beach balls in the water, grinning from ear-to-ear; we watched deaf children dancing their hearts out to their own silent music; a wheelchair bound child with little use of his hands held an artist’s brush to paint a self-portrait.

These are just a handful of the wonderful experiences that have occurred since the children arrived at the beach Monday afternoon. But it’s not just the kids that are changing. The counselors are being enriched by this experience every moment in many unexpected ways. There are lessons for us in each of the tasks we perform. There is love poured out in every embrace and hug shared with a camper or their caregivers. Our hearts expand in some way with every minute.

Counselors adapted to significant unanticipated changes from the moment the campers exited the bus when it was discovered that 8 children from the original roster were not coming and 9 new ones had taken their place; team members diligently worked together to move wheelchairs-bound and blind campers into non-compliant buildings, shuffling room assignments to ensure that everyone was satisfied; they filled requests for drinks, snacks, blankets, diapers, baby formula and everything else you can think of in a remote area with no discernable shopping for miles; made 100s of bathroom runs; played games and swam for hours with the kids; served as a group of swift waiters and waitresses at meal times, feeding those that can not feed themselves, serving themselves last; treated a child for pressure sores (similar to bedsores) caused by immobility; actively engaged with those whose muscles have atrophied from years in a wheelchair, working their muscles to loosen them.

The list goes on and on… and this just covers the first day and a half of camp! In the following posts, we will tell the story in photos, highlighting some of our favorite activities that we did with the kids.

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