In a previous article, I promised you stories from camp, and so I begin here. This story is about one of the boys in my Pack. He joined Cub Scouts as a Lion, and just moved up to be a Bear. While the other stories I tell you in this series will be a snapshot of a single week, this one will cover a bit more time, because this story is about my son.
He loves Lego, puppies, and tacos. He’s my hiking buddy and has been voted the funniest person in our family. At eight years old, he runs faster than I do, but has yet to outpace his dad. The kid is delightful, is best friends with his sister, and is loved by every teacher he’s had. But there’s something most people won’t ever know about him: he has Sensory Processing Disorder. After countless hours of therapy in his years before Kindergarten, he functions so well, his teachers are shocked when they discover he struggles with it at all.
His proprioceptive ability (where his body is in space) presents itself as extreme caution for certain activities. He has no interest in roller coasters or swinging high on the swings. While most kids like the feeling of loss of control or the thrill of playing against gravity, it’s pure torture for my son. Where his struggle shows up most tends to be when he is in water. Pryce might go in a pool up to his knees, but that’s it.
Or at least it was.
In the summer between Kindergarten and First Grade, he attended Day Camp for the first time. The McGimsey pool with its beach-like entrance was perfect for him. Secure with a life jacket snug around his torso, Pryce played in the shallow water, splashing around all by himself while the other kids had fun deeper in. He didn’t notice it, but I did.
I sat next to Micheal De Los Santos, the Scout Executive for our Council, at the tables facing the pool, and I silenced wished my kids wasn’t so afraid of water so he could play with the other children. With tears in my eyes, I confessed this to my friend next to me, and he said, “Special things happen at Day Camp. You’ll see.”
I didn’t argue, because, well, I figured he was just being polite. He didn’t know my kid well enough, and I didn’t think it proper to disagree. That was, the first day.
By the fourth day, that Day Camp magic started working. Pryce’s new friends had encouraged him to go in a bit farther to play. You’ll see in this picture, taken June 15, 2019, he’s in deeper water, and having a blast. Michael was right! To most, it’s not a great picture. But if you look closely, you’ll notice: His hair is wet. He’s around other kids and not inching away from them because they’re making the water move.
My eyes fill with joy every time I look at this photo.
This is what happens at Day Camp, and why I believe in it so wholeheartedly.
When he went to Day Camp for McGimsey Week 1 last week, he did four things I never expected to see this summer: He declined the use of a life jacket. He dunked himself underwater. He swam. He even climbed the stairs to go down the water slides!
No, he didn’t go down them…he changed his mind when fear got the best of him – but he decided to check it out. Who knows, 2022 might be the summer he decides to go down it. You better believe I’m going to give him the opportunity because I know what Day Camp has done for him, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Do you have a story to share about your Scout’s experience at Camp? Tell me about it at Jennifer.Arntson@AlamoAreaBSA.org.