Dear Pre-Camp Self,

All packed & ready to go!
As I am getting ready to pack for camp there are a thousand questions poking my brain, dancing around my head with sly little smirks on their faces -- like they all have some huge secret that I don't know about. Usually I would be annoyed but this time I don't mind, instead of annoying me, this time around the unknown is exciting and it's also one of the few times in my life where the unknown hasn't cast a long shadow of fear!

As I am packing for the next five days this is what is going through my head:

"Why do I own 12 pairs of jeans?? This is absurd! And how did I pick-up so many free t-shirts from those non-profits that I worked for and interned with?! I literally have an entire wardrobe of idealistic slogans and calls to save the world!
I have no idea what I'm getting myself into as a camp counselor but that's okay. I am telling myself it's going to be fine because I will fall back on my love of helping others, of working with kids, of helping others face challenges, and I hope I will be laughing throughout the entire week. Yes, even when that huge creepy crawly comes near me in the middle of the woods in Maine - I will laugh. As opposed to screaming like the pipsqueak that I can be... okay, I will try my hardest not to scream.

Seriously though:
I am most curious about the group of kids that I will be working with. The camp is geared towards kids who fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum (some have other disabilities as well) -- and I'll admit that I have little to no experience with working/camping with kids with Autism. But I have been assured that no prior professional experience was needed so what can I say? I really am just a sucker for adventures and mystery! Usually I would have done all the research, talked to my friends who were Special Ed majors in college, or thought about various scenarios and how I might react - but not this time around.

From what I know of Explorer's Camp it seems to be just like any other mainstream camp but with the flexibility in the schedule, a and day-to-day routine that works with the various challenges the campers may face. Whether it's extreme anxiety, difficulty following directions, or participating in group activities... ultimately I get the sense that at Explorer's Camp it doesn't matter what the challenge is, the camp works for and with the child. How I wish the real world, the world beyond Explorer's Camp, beyond the next five days that I will experience could function like that always! Imagine a society that works for and with any disability! It almost sounds like a vacation from my usual routine! Instead of the individual constantly needing to find ways to adapt to the everyday, this time, at least for a little while -- it will be my job to help flip their societal expectations a bit. Of course, I am not naive enough to believe that in the span of 5 days I will reverse societal expectations of how people with disabilities live their lives, but it is my hope to help someone at Explorer's Camp believe that it just might be possible."

So that is what is going through my head and I can't wait to update my readers on what my experience was like when I get back. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the rest of this week's blog posts while I'm away!!

Rays of shine,

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