Tag Archives: Special Needs

Yes we will.


So, one of the Recreation campers this week was new to the group.  Tod is 23, and he wowed us all with is flag collection & knowledge.  He had over 150 with him at camp… some full sized, some miniatures.  He could name the flag and the time period.  (For example the Imperial Japanese flag & the current one.)  He sorted the flags by continent.  He named some countries that I didn’t know existed.  He also had a thing for cool military hats, and a bunch of those as well… from French to Russian to Australian.

Tod also has an incredibly creative imagination.  He told many stories and wrote songs and stories in his pile of composition books.  He told us bout elves that lived in the woods, that shot lasers to make you grow tall, vampire princesses, mermaids that had nests under our cabins, purple giraffes that laid eggs, werepigs, four-headed frogs, poisonous porcupines… and so many other fantastic creatures.

Tod shared readings of song lyrics & the story of Esther all hand written by him in his books.  He also drew us many pictures.  One of our counselors Laurel took home a pile (he seemed to take a liking to her & handed her a lot of them), and I have some photos of others, but I did bring one home that he handed to me.  Tod told me it was a song.  I’d like to share it with you:

Living Waters You Will Remember My Name  by Tod Elbridge Johnson  It was at Living Waters The wind blows, the flags fly, And the Campers Come!  But you should not doubt me, You will remember my name.  Oh Living Waters you will remember Living Waters one thing remains.  Living Waters warm and tender You will remember my name.  Your heart, Your heart had ventured with Jesus.  Nothing but ashes from the campfire remain.  Oh Living Waters you will remember Living Waters one thing remains.  Living Waters so warm and tender You will remember my name.  Yeah you will remember my name.

You Will Remember My Name (Tod Elbridge Johnson)

Here it is typed out if you had trouble reading it:

Living Waters You Will Remember My Name

by Tod Elbridge Johnson

It was at Living Waters
The wind blows, the flags fly,
And the campers come!

But you should not doubt me,
You will remember my name.

Oh Living Waters you will remember
Living Waters one thing remains.

Living Waters warm and tender
You will remember my name.

Your heart,
Your heart had ventured with Jesus.

Nothing but ashes from the campfire remain.

Oh Living Waters you will remember
Living Waters one thing remains.

Living Waters so warm and tender
You will remember my name.

Yeah you will remember my name.

Yes, Tod, we will remember.

I might try to set this, or some of the lines to music.  I hope Tod likes the result!

My Week at Camp


Archery Camp 1997

This was a few years ago at camp, and years before the wife & I realized that we kinda liked each other. Ha ha.

So, if you’ve known me for a while, you know camp Living Waters is a big part of my life, and has been for a long long time.  It was near & dear for my family and many friends growing up, it’s where I met the girl that eventually became my wife.  It’s where I have made friendships that defy logic and are somewhat closer to a family than being mere friends.  It’s actually close to the feeling you have being in a band… it’s a sense of belonging, not quite a gang mentality, but there is a strong bond that goes beyond mere friendship that’s hard to explain.

Hogan 4

This is where I stayed for the week.

I have been lucky enough to not only be a camper, but a counselor for many many camp functions, eventually inheriting the director title for Jr./Sr. High Camp that we had this past week.  Luckily for me, all of our counselors have their duties and functions where they take charge, and I think we pulled it off.  I don’t think we’ve had many direct discussions on who needs to do what… it amazingly all just falls into place and we understand what needs done and who’s best suited to do it.  We dive in & do it as a team.

Church camp may scare some people.  Those that know me from outside of camp may be surprised or questioning of my affiliation with such a thing.  I try to take all the things that I have been taught, and lead life by example.  I’m generally not preachy about religious subjects (or at least I try not to be), but I will delve into the subject if someone asks me about it.  I have a respect for all religious beliefs or non-belief, and ask that in a conversation I am shown that same respect.  (I have some good friends that should also be able to tell you that it’s pretty hard to offend me on such subjects.)

Pavillion

This is where we hung out for most of the week.

I feel like I have been called to work with the camp that has given so much to me, to provide campers with their own version of the experiences I had over the years that have helped make me into the person that I am today.  I hope to be a good example to the kids on how go out into the world and be good examples to others themselves.  You don’t have to run around spitting scriptures, knock on people’s doors, or force others to believe what you believe or feel what you feel.  You do need to treat people with respect and kindness.  We discussed being a good seed this week, and how we’re planted in the world to serve others around us.  Serving can be as simple as listening to a friend’s troubles, cutting grass or washing a car, or just telling someone that they are important to you.  We don’t often pause for the simple small things, yet they can have such an impact.  Sometimes I had to be goofy with the kids to get the gears turning, but turn they did.  Once we were able to get into discussions & past answers that were perhaps subconsciously what they thought I wanted to hear… I got some fantastic examples and ideas on how you can do small things to help those around you.

Some of the activities at camp besides bible study in the AM were Archery, a night game pattered after an one one called Get Smart & a flashlight tag game that has morphed into one we call Star Wars, a terrarium craft, a creek walk, a trip to Shawnee, team-building games, orienteering, making mountain pies, lots of singing, vespers every night headed up by Laurel, science time making bandanas with Kirby & Kaylyn, and a campfire where we talked about everything from what we’re thankful for to what our hardships are… and how we can help each other through them.

Archery!

Archery!

I feel like Archery is such an incredible activity for teens… it seems like something that is hard to do, but if you listen to the instruction given by Kirby & Adam, you are consistently hitting the target within a day or 2, and you can become a great shot by the end of the week (when we start putting things like playing cards & water balloons on the targets for fun).  It’s an incredible self-esteem builder, and teaches great discipline and focus.  It’s easy to understand that you must do things correctly or someone can get hurt.  The kids encourage each other and commend each other without any prompting from us old people.  It builds a positive environment easily & organically.  It’s amazing to see them light up when they hit a bullseye, hit a playing card, or pop a water balloon.

We of course sometimes had problems with losing attention quickly… and I blame social media.  We’re luckily able to reel them back in.  I think it helps that most of our staff are smart-asses.  I try to show & tell the kids that you don’t have to conduct yourself differently at camp than you do at home, or vice versa.  Also, I find it fascinating how many of the younger kids constantly asked me if they could go to the bathroom.  It must be from school.  I feel that they’re all old enough to conduct themselves responsibly & can take care of such things without disruption to whatever’s going on.

Some of my personal highlights for the week were when one kid had told us how he had never experienced any kind of group or camp setting before & couldn’t believe how all the other kids had been so accepting of him.  In fact, I didn’t hear a negative word from any of the kids to another.  They would instantly take to the kids that seemed to be outsiders and make sure to include them in the group.  It was an awesome thing to see.  It’s also great to see the kids that have grown up together in various camps form friendships that will last a life time.

Living Waters 2012 - Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp

We Are One Big Happy Family – Living Waters 2012 – Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp

Camp Flags

Camp Flags

The big highlight was our interaction with the other camp there this week… Recreation Camp is for special needs adults to come enjoy a camp setting.  We did several activities with them besides our 3 meals & singing in the dining hall each day.  We had science time where they learned about chemicals that make up ink and the separation, and we made easy tie-dye-like bandanas with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.  Our campers mixed with & assisted the rec camp, and it was fantastically fun.  We also mixed again with our trip to Shawnee, singing on the bus and swimming and relaxing together as one big group.  Campers from both camps expressed the need to do it more often.  It was enough to move me to tears to see how the kids accepted the rec camp group who were so different, and made their day by just spending time with them, sharing a laugh, a splash, bouncing a beach ball, and lots of good-natured teasing.  Then there was our campfire sing-along, our seeing one of their campers’ collection of over 150 flags I’ll have to talk about him in another post), and them visiting us on the archery range one day.  It’s a feeling of great joy to see all of our campers make such connections.  My wife & mom are directors at Rec camp, and I feel like that helps us bring the camps closer together.

That feeling is why I was moved to make this a while back…

Check out my photos and my wife’s photos on Facebook if you’re interested.  If you’re a camper or counselor & want to share your photos too, please paste the link in the comments below!

Superman.


You all know I’m a Batman fan.  You might not know that I’m not really a Superman fan.  In this instance, I am indeed a Superman fan.  I’m not sure if this is real, in fact the only part that makes me doubt it is the fact that it says it’s a true story.  I’m generally not so sappy or philosophical here, but this just hit me for some reason, & I thought I’d share.

I’m not sure why it was on Lamebook, & not sure if it’s even real.  Even if it’s not real, we can all get a little inspiration from it (I hope). Please pardon my blogging equivalent of email forwards.  I hope this isn’t like the Fred Rogers was a Navy Seal rumor.

I get a few things from it that I’ll share afterwards:

Superman - Secret Identity - Lamebook.com

Superman (lamebook.com)

Superman

Superman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, this is what I got from it:

  • Someone’s always watching you.  You’re setting an example for people around you even if you don’t know it.
  • You can get an inspirational or emotional lift from someone when you least expect it.  It can be form someone you wouldn’t expect, or even some one you’ve never met.
  • Don’t be afraid of those who are different than you.
  • While it’s great to be humble, it’s OK to be someone’s hero every once in a while.

What did you get from it?

♡ Happy Birthday Bethany! ♡


Generally I blog about goofy stuff except for food allergies, and not much here takes a serious tone.  If you’re reading this, I assume you already know that.  A bunch has been going on with life lately, we’ve been through a whirlwind of ups & downs as things get increasingly hectic.  I’ll spare you the details as my good friends & family probably already know all the stuff we have going on anyway.  At any rate, that’s not the focus of this blog any way… it’s just the spark behind it.

The focus of this one is my wife, Bethany.  Her Birthday is today, and with it approaching while we have many other things going on… I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle.  I decided to make note and wish her a happy birthday here.  (Someone might have to tell her about this… I don’t think she reads it much because she hears most of my ranting live without the added benefit of a filter.)

Archery Camp 1997We’ve known each other for many many years and originally there was not even a remote spark of interest.  We have a wide age gap, and I was a counselor when she was a camper at our church camp, Living Waters.  I’m sure we talked, joked, and laughed… I even helped instruct her in Archery.  Sadly for the reader, nothing creepy was going on.

Many years later we went to dinner at Ritter’s as old friends catching up (thanks to AIM of all things), and something sparked there.  We generally don’t have much in common.  We have wildly different personalities.  We go together perfectly.

Beans N' CheeseI’m glad I have found my other half.  We like to laugh, and goof around with each other.  We meet on common ground where things are important.  Neither of us sleeps well when the other isn’t in the bed.  We do enjoy cooking together, entertaining, road trips, Flogging Molly, the RamonesJohnny Cash, & Willie Nelson.  I got her quoting Star Wars, she has me inexplicably interested in Glee.  We both like antiques, have an appreciation for the history of things.

We both have large & close extended families.  We all fit in all around.  That’s important to both of us.  We’re both still actively involved with camp, it’s a very special place to us on many levels any more.  We learn more about each other & ourselves with each passing year.

Bethany has brought out my sensitive side and I have given her a healthy dose of geekery & anarchy.  I’m proud of her for going to school and advancing her career.  I’m in awe of how she works with her special needs campers during recreation camp in the summer.  It takes incredible amounts of patience and mental strength.

She supports my crazy punk rock band, guitar acquisition habit, Batman & Star Wars obsessions, and puts up with lots of the History Channel and Discovery Channel.  She looks out for me with my crazy shellfish allergy, and takes care of me whenever I’m not feeling well or even if I’m just having a bad day.  She has gotten over rolling her eyes at my skull coffee mug.

So to Bethany, my wife & best friend, I want to say Happy Birthday!  I also want to tell you how much I love you and how glad I am that we are who we are.  I am a better man for for knowing & marrying you.  You are my favorite, and I’m glad we found each other.

♥

At times I can have a pretty foul mouth, but nothing is as offensive as…


There are times when I have the vocabulary of a proverbial sailor or trucker. I don’t talk like this all the time.  I try to use “colorful” language for emphasis.  I understand that there is a time & a place for such things.

Sometimes it comes out more when on stage with the band, due to the nature of our music & lyrics.  I generally don’t write offensive words here in my blog or on social media like Facebook & Twitter.  Being involved in Church & camp, there are words I don’t use that could be considered offensive to religion.  I usually don’t swear in front of my mother or ever in front of my grandmother.  Sometimes I use words that are incredibly foul in one long string just because some single words aren’t foul enough to express my frustration, and I even try to make up new ones.  (This is usually behind the wheel of  car,  just ask my wife.)

We all probably have our own rules about what others might consider foul language.  I can turn it “off” without a problem according to the company I’m with.

My point?

It’s easy to turn it off.

Most swear words refer to a bodily function or body part that we somehow collectively decided to find offensive.  I say that when you need to express anger or want to make people giggle, use those words until your heart’s content.  Everyone understands what you mean when you use those words.

On the other hand, there are some words that we should try to never say, like “the N-word” and any other racial slurs (except “cracker” — that will always be funny), like words that are offensive to homosexuals (the other “F-word” & calling things “gay” in a derogatory way), and the focus of this blog:  “The R-Word

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not perfect.  I have used all of these words offensively… but I have cleaned up my language as far as those last few go.  I’m not someone who tries to be politically correct or anything, I just know what I feel is right or wrong.  It’s definitely wrong to use the word “retarded” to describe something, or to call someone a “retard”.  It’s killing me just to type those words.

For the last several years at our summer camp, I have been working with Jr./Sr. high age kids, and my wife and mother have been working with special needs adults.  We’ve all become directors of our respective camps that happen at the same time at the same facility.  The camps get together for several activities like crafts, skits, or singing at meal times & around the campfire.

We have met so many wonderful people that might get ignored or avoided by society because people are scared of what they don’t understand or scared of someone that’s so different.  Some people are just scared that they might react in a bad way.

Living Waters - Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp - July 2010

These are some of my friends. (Living Waters - Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp - July 2010)

It has brought me to tears to see the joy that all of our campers have when the groups are interacting.  I don’t tear up easily, but seeing those kids spark when they help or learn from the special needs campers… or seeing the special needs campers’ joy in the simple fact that a group of kids wants so spend time with & sing with them… it makes a guy that tries to be a hard-ass punk rocker into a big blubbering mess.

My friend Tom has Down Syndrome.  Tom taught me sign language for “chicken” when he was calling me one at a wave pool on a field trip.  He knew I didn’t know sign language.  He knew his fellow camper friends did.  After I told him that the water was too cold, he started making the sign at me and laughing.  Some more of his friends did too.  Finally I got someone to confess the meaning and I of course had to go into the cold water streaming down from one of those goofy mushrooms.  We all laughed, and Tom patted my back to let me know that he was just joking around.  Tom is not stupid.  People like Tom aren’t stupid.  Don’t use the R-word when you mean stupid or dumb.

You can come at me with all 7 dirty words or any other ones you can think of and I won’t blink an eye or be offended.

When you use the R-word, it’s offensive to Tom, people like Tom, Tom’s family and friends, and me.  If I hear you say it, I might correct you or shoot you a dirty look.  This is your warning.

250 px

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