I periodically but consistently fuss about not knowing anyone “like me” in this… country, really. I’m in a funny spot, you see; I don’t fit in with typical people my age, but I also don’t fit in with people with disabilities for the most part. Remember when I tried the church service for adults with disabilities at my church, and it was aimed at maybe a 2-year-old’s level and they talked to me like I was a preschooler? I didn’t like that one bit. I was really uncomfortable.
So there’s a place up the road a ways called The Woodlands Foundation, and it has camps and retreats and stuff for people with disabilities of all kinds. My mom called the camp director and told her about me and she said I’d be a perfect fit. Then I called to get details, and the girl said I’m “too high functioning” for their camp (my question was how does she know my functioning level based on a 5-minute phone conversation?). She agreed that I could come (at no cost!) for a day and hang out with the campers and get a taste of camp life to see if I want to stay longer in the future… she tried to convince me to come as staff, but I told her I wasn’t comfortable and didn’t think that was a good idea.
I didn’t have high hopes for going today. Anytime I’ve been at events for people with disabilities, it’s been “us” and “them”… or, “the helpers” and “the helpees.” And to be honest, I kind of expected it to be like the church thing I went to a couple years ago.
It. was. awesome. There were no boundary lines, no us and them, none of that. There were people, people of every kind of skin color, shape, size, condition, ability, intelligence. To be honest, I couldn’t always tell who was counselor and who was camper. Everyone helped each other out. Everyone had fun on his or her own terms. There were even girls like me (I mean, I don’t know if they had ASD, but girls who generally functioned like I do)! There were even a few who were higher functioning than I am (as in, you would never know they have a disability even if you’re looking for it). Camp fit me like a glove.
First we did archery, and the guy said I was pretty good! I hit the target maybe a fourth of the time. During archery, the girls were all talking about… boys, or music, or something I couldn’t quite grasp… and I sat there and talked just to staff. But the girls were all really nice to me. One, especially, I exchanged information with and would like to hang out with her. (My mom’s first question was “what’s her disability?” and the answer is, I have no idea and don’t think it matters that much, because I like her).
Then we did arts and crafts, my favorite! I made some projects for Mom. One of them is fireworks out of paint and blowing through a straw, and Mom looooves fireworks, so I know she’ll like it.
Then we had lunch. I talked to the cook and she said she can handle any dietary restriction I throw at her. When I said “gluten, casein, soy-free, vegetarian, low sugar?” her eyes got big, but she said we’d work it out and that I could even bring in my own special peanut butter cookies (they are only peanut butter, splenda, vanilla, and an egg, so, pure protein).
After lunch we swam for an hour. There were like 50 people in the pool! It was kind of loud and I got a little antsy so I got out early and went and got dressed and stuff. Then we hung out and waited for my new friend to get back so I could get her information.
Even the counselors were fantastic. They treat everybody the same. The laugh with us, swim with us, eat with us. They don’t treat you like you’re somehow “less than.”
There are weekend retreats every month of the year, and it’s only $100 to go! Mom says I totally can. I can’t wait!
Oh! I will meet Lexi Mae on July 9th. ELEVEN DAYS!