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“Welcome to Camp.” I said to a small African American boy. He had short hair; a very large shirt that looked like it was handed down, and was dragging his bag along with his head down. I continued, “What’s your name? What cabin are you in?”
He stopped, staring at the ground, said “My name is Jhordan. I’m in cabin 6B.”
“Sweet, I’m Mako , a nature name I took up during the summer. I’m one of your cabin leaders” Continuing I said “Do you know where you’re going?”
Mumbling he said “No, I don’t know where I’m going.”
“Well let me take you to our cabin.”
We get to the cabin and I introduce Jhordan to Glick , my senior leader , I tell Jhordan “I will see him in a little bit; I am going to help more kids find their cabin.” Relieved to leave I head back to Summer’s Lodge where even more kids are checking in for their supposedly amazing week here at camp.
Once everyone arrived, I went back to my cabin for “Round Robin”, an activity where the cabin learns how to be a camper and the fun activities this camp has to offer.
We get to the pool for the swim test, and Jhordan doesn’t listen to lifeguard’s rules. He takes off his shoes, revealing pitch-black socks, and jumps into the pool sending ripples of muggy water to the far ends of the pool. Like before he doesn’t respond to the lifeguards, he enlightens me with the fact that he can’t tread water . The lifeguards, being too lazy to even think of telling him how to tread water, pull him out of the pool banishing him from the deep-end .
We go back to the cabin and the kids change out of their swim trunks and the get ready for dinner. In front of the dining hall, we sing songs as the final preparation for the meals is taking place. All of the camp sings “It’s a 60’s party from a 60’s movie” , repeating the counselors. Jhordan just stands there looking at his shoes. Continuing through camp fire Jhordan is not very responsive to the camp songs.
We wake up the next morning and start our day with breakfast. After breakfast we have our first camp activities such as cable slide and archery. At the cable slide Jhordan stood off to the side and watched other kids going down the slide. Of course he is afraid of heights.
During Cabin time, Glick and I took the cabin to Ga-Ga ball to have some fun be we have dinner. Gaga ball is like dodge ball in that you try to hit the other players with the ball. The only difference is that every player plays for himself. Jhordan got really into the game jumping off the walls, literally.
After the game, we went to dinner and Jhordan’s head was up and clapping he started learning the lyrics to the songs. By the end of campfire that night Jhordan was a pro. He started talking to his cabin mates not wanting to go to sleep at night.
The next morning during shower hour, we tell the kids to change into their swim trunks. The kids are changing and giggling. I hear a *Click*. I open the door to tell the kids to stop giggling and I see Jhordan standing in the middle of the cabin with his eye to the view finder of his disposable camera. I tell Jhordan to come outside and sit at the table next to the cabin. A quick chat with Glick to tell him what I just saw. We asked our neighboring cabin leader to watch our cabin while we talk to Jhordan. Not sure what to do we confiscate Jhordan’s camera.
Glick sends me to go run and find Chief, our unit coordinator . Not able to find Chief I talk to Gabe, the health supervisor. Gabe talking to Rene, one of the directors, He tells Gabe to go and get Jhordan from our cabin. Gabe and I, take Jhordan to the Health Cottage where Rene is there to meet us. He sends me back to with my cabin which is now at the Mole Hole. About 20 minutes later, Chief walks up to the Mole Hole to get me. On the walk down to the Health Cottage Chief informs me that Jhordan has been kicked out of camp and his guardian is on their way to get him.
Waiting for Jhordan’s guardian I continually tell Jhordan how much fun he had had this week. I asked him if he was ready to go home and ready for his mom to pick him up. I asked him if he was happy and really to come back in a few weeks.
After about 2 hours had passed, with our cabin playing Gaga ball just 20 feet away, we received word that his foster care worker was there, I asked him “if he was happy to see his foster care worker”. He responded that “he had never met his new foster care worker.”
A few days went by and Lucas was added to our cabin because he was not working well with the other kids in their cabin. We told our cabin and Eric asked, “Why does Lucas get to go to another cabin when is doing a lot of horrible things, but Jhordan is kicked out for just one action?”
“Erik, Lucas is boy who has not done the right thing a lot of the time, but it is Thursday night and the camp doesn’t want to send him home on the last day. H is being moved to our cabin and given strict instructions that if we have to give him another yellow slip they will call his parents and he will sit out of the carnival.”
That last day came and went. After the day is done and most of the campers had left, I walk all of the bus kids and their stuff, including my own, to the parking lot where the school bus was going to pick us up. On the way over I look and see, this same young boy holding on to what seems to be a very large rubber band ball. It’s Jhordan; I walk over and talk to Jhordan, who is there with his parents to pick up his brother and sisters. I tell him how excited I am to see him in a few weeks, as I thinking to myself “There is no way this kid will be put back into my cabin”. Jhordan looks up with a small smirk and says “I can’t wait either”.
Three weeks later and I’m on a plane to France. Jhordan is back at camp.
“I missed him. Thank God”.