At the end of first semester my friend, Morgan, told me about this incredible camp in Colorado for people with different abilities. She’s working in the kitchen and a girl we went to middle school with is a full time staff at the camp after landing here while she was in americorps last year. I decided to become a camp counselor after having a Skype interview with the program director at Rocky Mountain Village, packed my bags, and headed to Colorado with Morgan for a very entertaining road trip through Iowa and Nebraska…
The camp is in the mountains and when I walk out of my bedroom door I am instantly taken back by the huge mountains in front of me, next to me, and behind me. The valleys are often covered by a fog that indicates snow may be coming soon which happens more often than I would have thought. There are short flurries followed by blasting rays of sunshine and a sharp breeze that makes the hairs on my hairs stand tall even through a few layers. It’s beautiful here. And the people are extremely kind, open, and caring.
Yesterday I watched a woman who uses a wheelchair for her everyday transportation climb a rock wall. With minimal usage of her legs, she scaled the wall using mostly upper body strength. As I stood there with some other fellow volunteers, I looked up at this 30 foot high wall watching her finally reach over the top and was just so emerged in her success. Another girl next to me had tears in her eyes and a boy from americorps said, “this is the reason I am here”. It was a touching moment, a happy one for all, and the climber had actually decreased her climbing time significantly from last year. We all had an opportunity to climb the wall and zip down the zip line before lunch. Technically we were “learning how to use the equipment” but in reality we were just having fun. After lunch I helped paint the walls of the art room to prepare them for a soon to be wall mural, hung out with another volunteer and her pet hedgehog, and watched some people play pool. Life is pretty good here right now and as one cabin captain, Rosa, says, camp is “organized chaos” and I’m loving every minute of it.
Campers don’t even arrive until next week and the anticipation is killing me. So far my days have been filled with getting to know other counselors, preparing for campers, training, and eating pretty scrumptious food. I always tend to think of camp food as cafeteria food, made is mass quantities, sloshed out of bins, you know, that kind of stuff, but this food is real. Morgan even told me how clean and particular the kitchen staff is, so that’s reassuring.
A few days ago I returned “home” to Farmington Hills from spending the school year in Mount Pleasant. I’ve seen a few people I haven’t in a while, spent some quality time with my family and so forth and I’ve caught myself riding in the passenger seat of a lot of cars. That may not seem that strange but, to me, it is. Because for so long I was always the one driving my friends around in Farmington Hills. I won “Class chauffeur” in my senior year mock elections if that explains anything..
But today, while my friend Marne was driving me home from B’s house I realized that I’m seeing things in my home town that I’ve never seen before.
Like signs and buildings.
After years of living here followed by years of being away I’m torn between things changing and things staying how they’ve always been.
It could be they just look new to me now.
My memories of this place might be washed out due to nights full of smoking and drinking up at school, who knows?
“Welcome to Farmington Hills” signs have been blurred out by the madness of Mission street in Mount Pleasant.
Finding ordinary things so unfamiliar.
I don’t live here anymore.
I haven’t in a couple of years and it seems like I’m years away from understanding it all;
The content-ness people display here;
The feeling of being okay with where you are;
The lack of curiosity here.
And here I am,
And a significantly evident interest in girls.
I’m searching for the place where I don’t stick out so much.
Where TV isn’t the highlight of conversation.
Where people don’t look at me and assume things they know nothing about.
Where I don’t have to think about what I say or how I dress.
I want to walk around and blend in again, like I used to when I lived here.
But I don’t want to be mixed in here.
It’s just proof, to me, that I’ve grown too large for this city.
I’m expanding more than the people here,
So here I am,
Sitting here at one in the morning,
Like I’m the one who has a problem.
Like I’m weird for wanting to explore.
Difference seems to be frowned upon here.
It gets harder and harder for me to be here.
Far away to a place I can only hope exists.
Where is it?
Where can I just…be?
Being here with relatives that I don’t seem to relate to.
It’s strange to me,
In my childhood stomping grounds.
I’ve walked these grassy yards before and I’m certain that I want more.
I’m seeing things I feel I’ve never seen before but it still feels old,
When I was in Mount Pleasant I was a tad nervous about what my summer holds. I received a position as a camp counselor at a camp for people with special needs in Empire, Colorado. I leave on Wednesday and don’t get back until the second week of August. That’s a decent amount of time to be away from everything I know, so it scared me a bit, however, being here, now, in this town, I am beyond thrilled to get out and go somewhere new.