Sunday, June 26, 2016

Camp Barnabas 2016: Bad People Skills

So there was a boy in Joshua's cabin this year...and yes, they are not "boys." They are MEN. I know this.

So there was a boy in Joshua's cabin named Matt P.

Matt P. has been in Joshua's cabin before...and I've written about him before. Unfortunately, I can't find that exact post at the moment...but it's from several years ago. Matt P. likes to jump up from his seat, before every meal, run up to the stage...and lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.

And then he follows that with a rousing rendition of "How Great Thou Art."


For the 12 years Joshua has been coming to this camp.

And, to quote Joshua: "I love Jesus, and my country...but I just want to eat."

Every camper at Camp Barnabas has a "helper." They used to be called, "Christ in Action," or "Christians in Action," I can't remember. "CIAs" for short. Now they are called "missionaries."

Each missionary is responsible for his/her camper for 23/24 hours a day. The missionaries typically get an hour to themselves each day, but the rest of the time? They are to eat, sleep, work, play, help, support, and encourage their camper.

In the 12 years Joshua has gone to Camp Barnabas, he's had really great helpers. Really great. They've all been younger than him...but all really awesome kids. Once or twice, he's had a female helper, and even that worked out okay. Female helpers are not allowed to sleep in the cabin with the guys, obviously, but Joshua is so low-maintenance, that is not even a big deal. Each cabin also has a "staffer" person in well as a Cabin Dad (or Mom, for the girls). Camp Barnabas provides lots of help and support for all of the campers.

But sometimes, I guess, like in can have a helper-camper team that doesn't work. Maybe the helper signed up with a church group because everyone else was doing it...or they had good intentions, but no clue what all was involved with special needs...or they had a boyfriend/girlfriend who was going, and signed up...or they were pressured by their parents to go and volunteer at the camp. I don't know. Those are just my thoughts. It could be that the camper assigned to them just rubs them all the wrong ways, AND VICE-VERSA...and neither one can get past it.

This is where maturity, on the part of the helper, is a must.

Because being a "missionary" at Camp Barnabas involves laying your life down for someone else...over and over and over again. For the duration of the camp.

Apparently Matt P. and his helper did not get along from the get-go. I don't know what the problem was...I just know there was a problem. And my only reference is from what Joshua said.

There's this old tree-house on the Camp property. Actually, I don't know if it's old or not. We saw it when we were in the long line of cars in the field...on the first day. Joshua said they went to the tree-house, and were "playing a game he didn't understand." But, as they were ready to head back, Matt P. said he wanted to go down the slide at the tree-house. Joshua said the slide was covered in moss and dirt...and Matt P's helper said, "no."

There could've been more reasons than the moss and dirt...I don't know. Could be that it was unsafe. Could be that Matt P. had been acting out or not following directions, and his helper saw the slide as a "reward," so he said, "no." I don't know.

But it flew all over Matt P.

And, Joshua said he didn't hear the words that were said by Matt P. OR his helper. All he knew was that, in a split second, Matt P. had hauled off and punched his helper...right in the eye.

And then, on the way to the nurse to get an ice-pack, there were more words...and, according to Joshua, Matt P. "clocked him again."

Listen, I know this isn't funny...but I could not stop laughing.

I tried to hold it in. I mean, I was driving and all. And, maybe I was just really tired. I had gotten up at 4:30 a.m., after a fitful night's sleep...but this whole story just hit me funny, and I started laughing. And I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I had tears rolling down my face. I thought I was going to have to pull off the road for a minute.

Because, in my world, when someone has a child with Down Syndrome...or when people find out we of the most common things that is said, is: "oh, they're sooooooooo loving."

So the thought that this sweet and loving individual, who has Down Syndrome...hauled off and "clocked" the person that was supposed to be helping so completely opposite of what everyone, everywhere, would think.

Side note: I did not know Joshua knew the word, "clocked," or that he could use it correctly. So there's that.

I did recover myself, and told Joshua that it is never, EVER okay to solve problems with violence...and that if Matt P. had a problem with his helper, he should've gone to the Camp Dad. Joshua agreed.

Which, it's easy for me to say what should've been done, because I'm speaking with Joshua as my reference point...and I know that he's been taught to go to someone with his concerns or questions. Not saying he WOULD go to the proper person, just that he has the communication skills he needs, if he did.

From what Joshua said about the situation, Matt P's helper was just as much at fault...and Matt P was given a new helper. I don't ever remember this happening before, at least not in Joshua's cabin.

I asked Joshua what he thought about the whole situation. I said, "WHAT in the world happened with Matt make him hit his helper?"

Joshua's response? "Bad people skills."

"...Those who love God must also love their fellow believers." 1 John 4:21

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