Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Experiences, Reflections and Meditations on Round Lake Camp 2010


              For almost four weeks, I was away from home at a Jewish sleepaway camp in the Poconos Mountains called Round Lake Camp. It marked my third consecutive and probably last time as a camper at that or any other Summer Camp. Now I have for the most part really enjoyed it with the occasional exception during bad days.

             The camp is unique due to its targeted population of kids with social disabilities. I myself would be included due my Aspergers Syndrome. Coming to this camp quite interesting because I saw all sorts of kids suffering from similar conditions, but their behavior is very individual and unique. It was a reflecting experience for me as an aspie because I came to understand that while I'm my own special oddball, unrelatable to anyone normal or  abnormal yet in the same breath connected to great degree to many of my fellow campers.

I had already made camper friends in previous years like "Eric" and "Rach"so my during duration at the camp was much easier from me. My friend "John" "whom I had meet the previous year" had originally decided not to Round Lake that year, But to my surprise and glee had returned in 2010. I also made new friends like "Daniel". "Steven", "Melinda" and "Tyler". I"m thankful that  joined  thankful that joined Facebook in so I could keep in touch with these amazing people.

         I did some pretty cool shit during  those four weeks. We swam in the lake (which is not  actually round in real life), biked around the camps trails and even went to Dorney Park(!). The Consulars were mostly the UK and Israel. It was refreshing to hear Trans Atlantic opinions of my  Consulars. They  were very nice  and I gained a degree of respect from them.Towards the end of camp, I read news reports  during  morning flagpole announcements. Campers  and Consulars loved  to hear my  anecdotes ranging  from politics  to the Plastic Pizza they serve us for our meals.

           While the majority of my experience were positive, a few were lukewarm and irritable. Sometimes I felt some of the actives we were doing were idiotic. I was reluctant to get  involved them and felt demotivated at certain times. Many kids in the camp and in my Bunk were extremely naughty and annoying. The national pastime of my Bunk 8 was trying to get  certain obnoxious Bunkmates to shut up. One camper's behavior was so horrendous that the Staff decided to kick him out of camp.  These incidents and dilemmas  could be best described as  a " Mind Fuck" as   former camper and friend "Mike" put it. Sometimes  you love RLC with all of your heart while otherdays you want strangle it (figuratively  speaking of course). My mind feels like a  maze  of thought    following a piece of string which in this case is the  pros and cons of my experience.  On one hand we saw "Talladega Nights" for movie night  which was hilarious, but on another movie night  we watched "Alvin  and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (ugh!).

But its not like I was shocked that their would inconvenience  at camp as  I have  gone to that camp for two years beforehand this one. If these less-to-wished- for experiences taught  me one thing, It would be how to cope  with the shitty  parts of life and try to memories of life. One experience that was  touching my experience with "Steve " on the basketball court. "Steve" was acting a little of it by the  middle of the third  week of Camp. I inquired about this and Steve told me that he was depressed because a couple of months ago,  a couple of his  high  school friends  who were  in a car together were killed in a tragic traffic and  he still felt a little distraught as their anniversary creeped up.   Around that time coincidentally, I found a
Jewish Orthodox   prayerbook dating back to 1944.  It was originally going to buried  with a bunch of other identical prayerbooks in accordance to Jewish customs. However, after some  negations  with the camp
administrators, I was allowed  to keep it due to the the fact they thought it was in good hands. I named the book Issac as it was saved from a most certain demise in the soil. It is very cool book with Prayers and Services for almost every considerable occasion( etc. There is a prayer for the event that a person sees a giant,drawf or  any other oddities in nature). I showed   to my camper friends including "Steve". As the my exit from camp was looming, Steve asked me if I could recite the Jewich mourner's Kaddish in requiem. Although my Hebrew is a bit rusty and it has been years since my Bar Mitzvah, agreed to do it and I preformed it on what I beileve was a Monday on the week of July 29th. I said Kaddish in a Basketball Court on RLC grounds in memory of their involvement in and love of athletics. Based on on his emotions during  and after our miniservices, I get  the impression  that I had done "Steve" favor that I will never be able to fully comprehend. Although I did give the Kaddish  on the exact deathday, I'm sure that their blissful Souls on the  heveanly Astral Plane don't mind.

            Recently I have been leening toward the Idea of me returning to RLC as a  counselor when I;m of proper age.  From my three years there I have  been exposed to so many intresting and beautiful people, places, and things. They include meeting kids with  disabilities  you wouldn't give  two cents  about them in their mentally incapacitated states, but they turn out to be some of the most clever and kindest people I have ever met in 15 years of life. I feel their is so much untapped potential that we on specturum  drawfs all of the normal standerds of human limits and bounds.  I feel of deep connection with these campers and I feel certian duty to help these kids because I can relate to them.  Maybe I could help them under go a Mental   Metamorphosis  and help them to reach a better tommrow. Prehaps  it is naive and unrealistic goal due to my hubris that  one person can succed in something so many have failed; However if weren't for all of my family and teachers that kept fighting for a little boy whom's future was uncertian, I would never be here were I am now. So I will always be dreaming the impossible dream(a nod to you "Rach")with all of my campers Past,Present and Future.

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."

-C. S. Lewis