Hey guys! So I realized today that I never really wrote a full blog post about camp twitch and shout! I guess I have been pretty busy and now that I am out of school and on summer break I have more time on my hands. I haven't been feeling like writing a lot of blog posts lately, not sure why, but just a second ago I got a sudden urge to write a blog post about camp twitch and shout so that's what i'm going to do now!
Anyway, I have been wanting to get involved with camp twitch and shout for about more than two years now! The first summer that I found out about the camp,the year my cousin went as a CIT, I wouldn't have been able to go because I went to a creative writing program at Iowa University's Young Writers Studio. I was still soooo jealous of my cousin that she was able to go to camp twitch and shout that year! She came back from camp and at a family party she was wearing a big and wide "Tourette's Tics Me Off" wristband from camp and I remember being so jealous! Jealous in a good way of course. I wanted so badly to have gone to camp twitch and shout and to have been confident enough to wear a TS wristband at a family party. But at that time I was still too shy about my TS.
The next year I still wanted to go to camp twitch and shout to be a CIT or a counselor but I ended up working pretty much full time in a Tourette Syndrome neuro-imaging research lab at the med school. I thought it was pretty darn cool that I got to work at this lab!!! But still knew I was missing out on camp!
This year during the school year I became determined to be a counselor at camp twitch and shout. It all started with a dream. I don't know if I posted on this blog about that dream but the dream was pretty much this:
"In my dream I was a counselor at camp twitch and shout and I was soooo excited to be there. I was loving interacting with the kids who had TS just like me. When it was time for me to go over and interact with the other counselors my age that had TS though I started to feel really uncomfortable and nervous. I went to sit down next to a counselor on some bleachers and we were listening to some kind of assembly speech. I was ticcing a lot during the speach and half way through the counselor sitting next to me who I wanted to try to connect with turned to me and said in a really sassy way: "I didn't know you had the courage to bust." Then I said "Bust? Is that some kind of slang word for let your tics out?". Then she just laughed at me."
The dream bothered me so much! I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I think what I was really dreaming about was being on the outside, being an outcast even in a community of people with TS just like me. I was dreaming about the fact that I had wanted to go to camp twitch and shout for the past two years and was not able and that in that time the people in the camp twitch and shout community had bonded without me, had terminolgy and inside jokes about TS that I could not understand, and therefore I felt in this dream like I was not a part of the TS community and I was very much on the outside. By saying " I didn't know you had the courage to bust" in such a sassy way she was essentially saying "You aren't one of us. You may have TS but you aren't a part of this community because you aren't as confident about your TS as we are". This upset me so much because I knew none of this was true! I am very confident about my TS now and I am not ashamed of who I am, tics and OCD and all! Some part of me though must have been feeling insecure deep down. Some part of me was trying to convince me that I needed to think more about all of this.
So I did, I started thinking about it. Thinking about how I am not ashamed of my TS, how I am part of the TS community, and how regardless of the dream I don't think I would be rejected by the TS counselors if I did actually go to camp twitch and shout. So I posted about my dream on facebook to get some feedback from some other people with TS.
I sure am glad I posted it on facebook because the results were wonderful!! I got lots of comments on the post but the one that stuck out to me the most was from an actual counselor at camp twitch and shout who has been a counselor there for the two years that I had missed out on. She told me this "I can assure you though from personal experience because I've been a Counselor at camp twitch and shout for 2 years and am sending in an application for a 3rd year, you would NEVER be treated like that !!! I was super nervous my first year as a counselor there... But let me tell you, CTAS was the best thing that happened to me. I had a great cabin of kids, all of whom I love dearly , and even though I was hoping I could provide advice to them and stuff, seriously I learned as much from them as they learned from me!!! And the other Counselors... You have nothing to worry about. About half of them have TS themselves. They completely understand you and do not judge whatever severity of TS you have. The Counselors with TS have varying degrees of TS, so no one would shame you for holding them in... They'd probably relate.. Some of the core values at CTAS are acceptance, respect... Being open minded... Compassion... Etc. My co-Counselors from both years are actually my best friends now even though we only spent the week of camp together."
Anyway you get the point. We ended up talking a lot more over facebook about camp. I wanted soooo badly, like I had in the past to get involved with camp twitch and shout! Since I was old enough, I wanted so badly to be a counselor there. The more I talked with this counselor, the more I wanted to go and knew it would be an amazing experience for me.
So what I did was I made a list. It was a list of the things I would have to do in order to be a counselor at camp twitch and shout. For me though it was a very long list, and the first big thing on the list was was greatest hurdle I needed to get over: talking to my mom about it. My mom would of course need to know because it's not like I could just say "Bye mom, this week i'm just going to be out of town for the heck of it". Lol, no. She would need to know where I was going and I would need her help with travel arrangements and payments.
Talking to my mom about it was a big deal for me because my mom has always had trouble with the whole TS thing. As I have talked about in previous posts, my TS is a difficult thing for her to deal with because she feels like she could have done so much more for me as a child if she knew I had TS and all the associated conditions that come along with it. It is of course also hard for her to come to terms with the fact that she really didn't know something major was going on with her own child and instead thought the ways that my tics and associated conditions manifested as a child was just a cry for attention and an attempt to manipulate her. So of course she feels guilty for thinking I was being manipulative when in reality I had a neurological disorder that I could't control and feels guilty for disciplining me as a child for these things that I couldn't control. She was angry at me instead of understanding and knowing this now is painful for her.
I did it though. I bit the bullet and got up the courage to talk to my mom about camp twitch and shout. The conversation went kind of like I expected it to go, knowing my mom. But at the end of the conversation we came to an agreement that I am 19 years old and at this point it was up to me to make decisions about what I want to do in my own life.
So after I crossed off that on my list, the next things on my list didn't seem nearly as hard. Next I filled out the application, sent it in though the mail, had a phone interview and waited to hear back from camp twitch and shout!!!