Stephen is inspiring. A fifth season camper in our Specialized Adventures Camp, Stephen’s adventurous spirit shines brightly every summer on the farm. Just like most of our campers, Stephen has been given a list of diagnoses, and just like all of our campers, this list means a lot less to us than the innumerable things that make Stephen an amazing guy. Our summer camp video for 2016 highlights Stephen as a “typical camp kid”. Generally, Stephen’s difficulties might set him apart from the “typical” crowd, but I know that for Stephen, as well as for his parents, it feels darn good to have a place where it feels like he fits right in.
One quick story about Stephen, because I am so proud of him! We used to call Stephen our “weather guy” since he was just as up to date on the forecast as any professional meteorologist. The predicted weather was undoubtedly going to be the first thing out of his mouth at morning check in, and concerns over the accuracy of this prediction would be revisited throughout the day. Rain was the most common worry, but even more concerning was the threat of storms. For years, Stephen has been consumed with worry about storms. Though we have tried to get to the root of this particular fear, when it is compounded by numerous other fears, there’s not much logic that can get processed, so what we work on is just feeling safe in general. We take any chance we can get to help build Stephen’s confidence, and he gives us a lot of chances. Stephen is a phenomenally kind guy; he talks to his favorite horse Rosie about how special she is while he grooms her, he adores the cats, especially when he gently rubs Salem, and he’s heartwarmingly respectful of others, particularly other campers who are having difficulty. He’s a great rider and he never looks more proud of himself than when his shoulders are pulled back, his back is straight, and his eyes look brightly into the future from on top of Rosie’s back. He’s pretty cool, but here’s the part of the story where he really shines. This summer, we were on a wagon ride which went a bit longer than we had planned, since we had stopped to check out the corn that we were going to harvest for the following day’s party. Just before we got back to the barn, the sky started to open up; big fat raindrops fell and thunder boomed in the distance. As we parked the tractor and squealing kids piled out of the back, Stephen patiently waited to let others off in front of him. Once inside, I checked in with him. “Wow, that was something else! How are you doing?”
“Well, they said it was going to rain,” he replied, “I guess they were right.” And off he went to the next activity. That was it. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t more to be said, that there weren’t more feelings to be had. I couldn’t help but to process this with Stephen and his mom Debbie at pick up.
“Stephen, you were so relaxed today when it stormed, how were you able to stay so calm?”
Stephen smiled, “I just knew I could do it,” he said. Words can’t do justice to that feeling of success. His fear was very real, and his ability to overcome it was very, very cool.
Thanks for checking out the video and, as always, feel free get in touch with questions or comments. More importantly, though, take a second to think about what makes you awesome!