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I’m sitting at my desk writing.
My son is sitting at my desk, drawing and answering questions from my co-workers.
It’s Friday afternoon, and because of a child-care scheduling snafu, I’ve picked Tommy up from his last day at the Munroe-Meyer Institute’s Camp Munroe and brought him back to the office.
How was camp?
“It was good.”
What did you do?
“I don’t know, but it was good.”
Eventually, through skillful questioning by my supervisor Karen (a former newspaper reporter with an apparent flair for handling reluctant sources), Tom admits that he played outside in the water park, that the water was cold, and that he had fun.
For Tom, this is a major conversation.
At the end of July, Tom returned to summer school, the last act in what has been a very busy summer for him. He spent the first three weeks in summer school at Wake Robin Elementary in Bellevue, then completed two weeks (sandwiched around a week off) at Camp Munroe. Then spent two weeks in Bellevue Public School’s Jump Start program before the actual school year begins.
He’s the hardest working person in the house.
But boy, did he love his first experience at day camp. In his two weeks at Camp Munroe, Tom would consistently come home, eat dinner and put himself to bed in the early evening in varying states of exhaustion.
“I love having fun,” he told his mother on one ride home from the camp.
Did he make any friends? “Yes,” he said. “The boy Josh.”
We assume he means camp volunteer Joshua Price, one of the “buddies” who supervised his play and activities. He also said he had a lot of fun with Sam, a “big boy.”
His ability to identify both boys by name was a pleasant surprise — it often takes Tom longer than one week to remember a person’s name.
Notes home from the camp directors and counselors were real day brighteners for my wife and I:
“Tommy had a great day! Tommy is an awesome camper! He is a very good role model and friend to his fellow campers.”
My son has never been called a role model before.
Now, he’s sitting quietly, drawing a picture of a plane, guzzling Mountain Dew, as I stare at my computer screen and wonder what he and I have taken away from the camp experience.
He didn’t leave with a new best friend, but maybe I wanted that for him more than he did. According to the counselors, he played very well with his fellow campers and had a great time.
He certainly has been more vocal lately, perhaps due to the confidence he gained at being not only “just one of the crowd” at Camp Munroe, but, according to counselors, something of a group leader. During a visit to Fort Atkinson over the Fourth of July weekend, he quizzed a re-enactor about his uniform, sword and gun in a lengthy conversation in which he stayed on topic throughout.
He has discovered the summer joys of the garden hose, probably a result of the outdoor “water park” at the camp. Saturday, he spent an hour spraying water all over the back yard – including all over the dog.
And he has shown increased confidence.
It’s not a major breakthrough. But it is another in a series of small steps forward – increasing self-confidence, increasing willingness to socially interact, an increasing ability to be part of a group.
Speaking of being part of the group: On his last week at camp, Tom asked my wife to get him a Camp Munroe shirt.
He wears it all the time.
It’s his camp, after all.
Where he’s awesome, loves having fun and is a good role model and friend.
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Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on UNMC’s A Day in the Life blog.
Above photo: Tom
John Keenan, a public relations staff member at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the father of three, shared this blog with momaha.
Read more from Keenan, by clicking here.
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