We leave for camp on Sunday to give the staff a day to prepare for the kids to arrive. We spent hours doing heavy lifting in HOT temperatures. I still looked around, and saw smiles on so many faces that are dear to my heart. We got to bond, and decorate cabins, and have fun(?) on a giant swing. It was a GREAT start to the week even if the AC was broken in the cabins.
Monday morning dawned, and I was excited, and expectant of what God was going to do this week. We prayed over the camp ground, and turned over our cell phones because we can’t keep them on us around the kids. Around 9:30AM the first bus arrived, and many familiar and new faces disembarked. I saw a lot of hesitancy in the new kids who didn’t know what to expect, but the returning campers almost fly off the bus in joy to be back at camp. The 2nd bus arrived a short while after the first. My camper got off the bus, and talked non stop. I knew from the get go that she was a type A personality. I knew we were going to have trouble. I know leadership prays about who gets what camper, so I was like…”Umm there must be a mistake because two type A’s together can’t be a good thing…” I hate type A’s guys. I know I am one, but I’m not a fan of being around others like me constantly. It’s too big a power struggle. It wasn’t a mistake though. I had my camper, and I was going to have to learn to be more flexible than I have ever been in my life.
We played in activities for a while, and my camper had a few melt downs over little things which I was able to ignore for the most part. I redirected her attention else where. We got to Royal Court (which is like a bible story time, and music) that night though, and when I told her we couldn’t go back to the cabin because we needed to stay with the group she threw her bible, and started to throw a tantrum that any toddler would be jealous of. At some point she decided that since I wasn’t going to give her positive attention for throwing a fit she took off for the bathroom. Two staff people followed as is how we are trained. (We must always have two adults with every child.) She locked herself in the bathroom stall. We stayed within eye shot, but didn’t really try to talk her out of being angry at this point. She then came out of the bathroom to kick things. We had to put a stop to that because we rent out the space for a week. We told her that wasn’t okay, and she stopped. She seemed to be doing better, and I thought we were going to head back into Royal Court, but instead she took off outside. Thankfully one of the child specialists was there as well as the Dean of Men, and we followed her outside. She didn’t get very far with 3 adults following, so she finally turned back. She wouldn’t come back inside though, so we sat in the 80+ degree weather waiting for her. The staff was able to finally convince her to go back in for dinner. I am telling you…I rejoiced when bed time rolled around.
Tuesday was the day that we had the Tea Party, so we picked up the girls outfits in the dress up area, and we took them to the Tea Party. They had a lot of fun, and we went on with our day. The melt downs didn’t stop, and the running away didn’t end. I admired her endurance, and she should totally run track. It felt like a constant battle with her guys. I wish I had a dollar for every time I told my camper she was breaking a safety rule because I would have been rich by the end of camp. I also wish I got a dollar for every time that she me that she hated me, and never wanted to see me again. Tuesday night as she was getting ready for bed she told me that as I was heading to the counselor meeting. I remember blinking hard to avoid crying, and saying “Well goodnight! Sweet dreams!”
I went to my meeting, and I cried. I cried because I couldn’t help this child, and because at certain points I didn’t want to help her anymore. I felt mentally abused by all of the hurtful words she was saying. I know it isn’t personal, but it FEELS personal. Have a child tell you they hate you for two days straight, and then tell me it isn’t personal. I knew at that point that I needed to be honest about what was happening. I talked to someone in leadership, and then I texted my mom. I felt the prayers being said over me as I went through Wednesday. Yes, there were constant melt downs. Yes, she ran away from me MANY times…But I knew I didn’t have to handle it alone. I still broke down once that day when she said she hated me, and punched me in the arm. It was at that point I got my first break of the week. I called a dear friend whose done this more years than I. She didn’t judge me. She offered a few suggestions, and listened to my words of frustration. She LOVED me through this time. I needed that.
Thursday morning came around, and I could have cried with relief. I had loved this child to the best of me, and was ready to go back to people who loved me back. I honestly don’t know how I got through this day because I was done. My heart was broken, and I was ready to drop the smile I had to keep on my face.
We have this thing…It’s called PMA. (Positive. Mental. Attitude.) We are supposed to have this all week, but I’m sorry…I couldn’t. I was beaten psychically, and emotionally, and I was hurting. The best I could do was fake it, and be honest when around “safe” people.
I think that sometimes we forget that we can be real with God. He isn’t going to fly off the handle if I let my PMA drop. He isn’t going to leave me if I tell him I’m angry. He wants me to come to him 100% real. I think we get so focused on PMA that we forget that we’re only human. We can only take so much.
Friday came, and it was the toughest day yet. I won’t go into details, but thank God that he provides people where they are needed at camp. He truly has us covered. We got back to the church, and I shut down. I withdrew because I didn’t have time to feel. We went to the welcome home dinner which was fun, but not like past years where we could talk about camp. It was more of a dinner type of thing where everything was planned. I prefer eating dinner at the church. I got home that night, and I cried. I cried deep sobs. My heart hurt so bad; it still does. I keep asking myself “Why was I put with this child when she didn’t even want me around? What did I do to have her hate me so much? Why wasn’t she excited about camp? ect.”
There are no words. I can’t make camp better. I can’t change the struggles I went through. I can’t change the fact that I didn’t connect with my camper. I can’t change the fact that she didn’t want me around. I just have to pick myself up, and dust myself off, and get ready for round 3 in a couple weeks. If you want to know where I am at right now emotionally…Here is a link to a song that describes how I feel very well. Blessings!