I now have 1 week and 5 days until I leave for camp twitch and shout! I am so excited that I don't know what to do with myself! My tics have been acting up quite a lot because of the excitement, but camp is so worth it! I have almost everything I need set out next to my suitcase and I wish I could go to camp today!
Anyway what I really wanted to write about today is that I recently found out that my blog and facebook page have inspired at least 3 people to become counselors this year at camp twitch and shout. I am so glad that my posts about camp have helped them to become counselors and that they will get to experience the amazing and life changing place that camp truly is. I know camp has changed my life and I hope that after camp they feel the same way! You can watch all the videos about camp and see all the pictures but you will never truly know how much of an impact this camp will have on you until you experience it for yourself. So since i'm writing this post, I figured I would share some of my favorite things about camp. Again these are not in any particular order, i'm just writing them down as I think of them.
1. The kiddos!!!
The #1 most amazing and important thing about camp is the kiddos. The kids you will meet at camp are so strong and brave. They have been through so much in their lives already and still hold their heads up high, educate others around them about Tourette's, and continue to inspire me every day! These kids deserve to have an amazing week and you as a counselor are there to make sure they do. A lot of the kids have been counting down the days until camp since camp ended last year. They are what matter most during the week! As someone who has grown up with TS, I know how hard the outside world can be to those of us with this condition and I know what it's like to be misunderstood by those who love you and care about you the most. They deserve a week of pure acceptance, community, and friendship. They deserve to be in a place where everyone understands what they go through on a daily basis and to feel like they have a place in the world.
2. Acceptance and Understanding
Like I mentioned above, camp is a place of acceptance and understanding like no other. Even my best friends who I have known since childhood don't understand what it's like to live with Tourette's. They care about me and I can be myself around them, but they will never know what it's truly like. Being in a community of almost 200 people who live with Tourette's every day is the most amazing feeling in the world. Everyone is twitching and making noises. No one even bats an eye when I bark like a dog, shout out the word no, stomp my foot, or hit myself in the chest. No one wonders what i'm doing, makes assumptions about me, or judges me. Everyone knows exactly what it's like to not be in control of your own body.
I have always been slow to warm up to others. It takes me a while to let others see my true self and personality. I know this is at least partly because of my Tourette's and anxiety. However, at camp last year, for the first time in my life I allowed myself to let my guard down. I opened up to others almost immediately, I shared my story, I showed them my personality, and I somehow became part of this amazing family. This was something I had never experienced before in my life. As one of my campers put it, "at camp, you can just be free".
3. What you take away
Both the counselors with TS and without TS alike leave camp with a new perspective on life. Like I have said before, camp is life changing and this is by no means an exaggeration. Even as a counselor, I came away from camp with so much more confidence. After camp, I felt more than ever that I had a community and a place in the world. I knew that even though living with TS can certainly be challenging, I am by no means alone in this challenge and journey. I of course knew before camp that I was no the only person living with TS in the world, but knowing that from a distance is a whole lot different than experiencing it and spending a week with almost 200 other people with TS.
I also came away with a lot more confidence because of how much my campers relied on me and opened up to me during the week. Even though I had 13-15 year old girls, I was still an older counselor who they looked up to and came to when they needed something. Although I don't typically naturally open up to people as I mentioned before, at camp I very quickly became this person who my campers could trust. My campers felt comfortable coming to me about any problem, issue, or emotion they were experiencing. They opened up to me and told me things that they had never told others before. I was there for them as a counselor, an older role model, and a friend. I was someone they could look up to as a person who is living a successful life with TS. This alone gave me more confidence and more self assurance.
Anyway, I cannot wait to experience all these things again in just 1 week and 5 days!!!!! There are so many more amazing things about camp than just these three things that I mentioned above. I can't wait for the new counselors and campers to experience camp and all the amazing things that come along with it! And I can't wait for all the returning counselors and campers to experience it once again :)