A funny thing happened on my way home from Youth Camp this year...and NO ONE LAUGHED! I had made my way quite successfully through a week of dancing, climbing, soccer,and gaga (obviously I am horrible at all of them - save for my domination in gaga ball=). I survived all sorts of fun and demanding activities in Ohio only to go down in glory in front of a huge audience of fellow travelers back at SeaTac airport. My backpack was huge and heavy and I was toting my racing chair along - an Ironman-wannabe can't travel without SOME gear.
So, I had just walked in front of all these people to pick my spot while waiting for the underground train. My right toe just grazed the ground and everything was CHRYSTAL CLEAR and in Sl-o-wwW mowwW-t-i-onnn.
This boy was goin' down!
No biggie really, it's a pretty common occurrence for someone without biological knees or feet and only one of them hip thingers. With all the gear though, it was going to be messy - I went down in about 5 different acts...each one more awkward and outstanding than the last. The entire way down I was just thinking about the people's reactions - it's always about the same: 'Oh Dear!' can usually be heard somewhere from one of the more fragile bystanders, then there's some running over and offers of assistance mixed in with 'are you alright' types of really normal things that are completely fine, understandable, and appreciated.
Okay fine, but as I lay nose (honestly) pressed to the hard, shiny floor that had just amplified the fall with the mess of metal legs clanging against it on their way to the ground, I was listening to a man's dress shoes clicking quickly over and I thought:
"Damn - I wish I was back at camp!"
Instead of popping right back up, I just lay there reflecting (and sort of hiding). Just minutes after saying goodbye to the last camper that I traveled home with, I already missed having the company of a fellow amputee to laugh about this with.
I WAS FINE! IT WAS FUNNY!!!
Here, among all these darn normal people, the only thing I could do was get embarrassed.
Within this tale of clumsiness lies the beauty of camp. It is full of kids (and counselors) that can relate. You just don't get that the other 51 weeks of the year and it feels really good to know, somewhere out there, are a bunch of people going through the exact same things as you.
I definitely draw strength from that and I believe the kids do too.
Thank you so much for your support of the Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp. It is every bit WORTHY of your donations and I hope that you will keep supporting it. The second I feel otherwise - I will be honest about it and find another way. We would like to grow this camp. EVERY year, more kids lose a limb to a lawnmower accident alone (over 500!), than are currently able to come to camp.
There is plenty of need and camp fulfills a vital role in kids' well being. We are all grateful for it and for your help.
See you next year CAMPERS!