The New Adventure

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013: Why We're Together and What That has Led To...

This post is a bit different in that it really isn't about the kiddos but their mother instead...bear with me...


So, something I've never really shared this before but I'm incredibly proud of my wife. Like, incredibly proud of my wife. She's an amazing person inside and out. She's my foil…the perfect match that challenges me, pushes me, and loves me regardless of what crazy dumb things I do. She's the best mother to our girls. She so rarely gets frustrated at their quirks and she is constantly enthralled with the things that they do and the people that they are becoming. She's also an amazing therapist. She's one of those people that you just hate in middle school or high school because she knew exactly what she wanted to do. There was never really any question that she was going to be a physical therapist and she was going to spend her time working with kids. It's just who she is and I think it's awesome.

One of the things that came out of Lindsey's desire to help kids was the creation of Camp Horizon. Now, I get labelled as the "co-director" or "co-founder" but that's no where close to correct. So, let's fill in a little bit of the backstory here and we'll get where we're going in just a minute.

Boom boom boom!
Lindsey and I met the summer of 1997 working at Camp Lookout, a Methodist church summer camp. Now, I was hot stuff, head counselor that year, and Lindsey was just some random volunteer who came down for a few weeks to help out because her friends from Maryville told her it would be fun. I wish I could say that the sparks were intense but honestly I have no recollection of even speaking to her. Sorry…

The summer of 1998 was a bit different. She came back as a counselor and I was resource staff. I had the best job in the world because I got paid to throw kids off cliffs. Seriously, paid money to toss kids off cliffs. What could be better? If you have ever spent any time working at a summer camp you will kinda understand the lifestyle. We worked from 7am until 11pm 5 days a week. This was before cellphones were a necessity and we didn't have a working television much less the internet. Weekend groups provided a bit of a break but most of us stuck around and worked those as well. I think I made about $175 a week but zero expenses so wahoo!

So, camp was our life for about 12 weeks each summer. One other thing you former camp people will understand is this: it doesn't matter who you are or what kind of person you try to be, no matter what happens, camp brings out the very best and the very worst in everyone. Everyone. No one is exempt from this. You have such amazing experiences with your campers, the staff, the user groups but you also get stuck in those moments when the rain pours down and puts out your fire and the minister in residence swears that he has zero stories to tell your agitated campers while you try to get dinner ready.

So, I tell you all of that to tell you this: I'm not exactly the most open person in the world. I put on a good front with the best of them. I'm awesome at it. I'm a fixer. Always have been. I'm fine…what can I do for you. That's who I am. Well, someone saw through that and called me on it. And I wasn't terribly happy about it.

Ouchie...
The way it happened was that I managed to break my foot right before camp started for the summer. I had been clearing trees, alone, and decided to go swimming, alone, when I finished the last load of brush. What I didn't notice was that the diving board pivot point was set way wrong. One bounce on that thing and it snapped right back up and clocked my foot and ankle really good. Remember, I'm alone. There wasn't a single person anywhere on site and here I am in the pool and my footie no workie. Not good.

I managed to get out and hobbled around enough to convince myself it wasn't horribly bad. Some ice and it really didn't hurt that much. Good to go and it went like that for the next few weeks. Well, remember that i was resource staff and that meant that I got to do all the fun high adventure stuff: high ropes, caving, climbing and rappelling. Bring it on. I was also one half of the GREATEST SHOW IN HOLSTON CONFERENCE CAMPING. My buddy John and I ran singing on the steps each evening and did lots of fun stuff. One activity involved singing a song and me running around the lodge like a crazy man. According to the doctor a few weeks after the fact, apparently each time I did this running I was re-fracturing my foot. Whoops…

So, as the summer wore on, my foot was bothering me more and more. I spent most meal times icing my foot and no one knew about it because it was none of their business. At least, I thought no one knew about it.

So, here's where we start skipping the mushy part and the fact that it took a whole 'nother year before Lindsey and I were actually dating. Don't ask…

Ok, so if you tuned out, tune back in here…

So, now you understand that the connection Lindsey and I share started at camp and that we both have a pretty strong affinity for camp. So, now it's 2005 and Lindsey has been working at Erlanger for a year. One day, I think it was in May or maybe June, Lindsey tells me that we need to run a camp for kids with physical disabilities. It's just not fair that these kids don't have the opportunity to go to camp and do the fun activities that other kids get to do without a second thought.

And crazy begat...
Dear readers, I wish I could tell you that I whole-heartedly supported Lindsey in her desire to start a camp. I wish I could say that I said something along the lines of, "that sounds like an excellent idea. Let's totally do that!" but I didn't. She was wanting to put together programming, find funding, find campers, find staff, and convince UTC that they wanted to help all in about 3 months. I think I might have said something along the lines of, "Girl, you be crazy…" cause that's what it sounded like.

Well, obviously Lindsey won this one. Camp Horizon was born and went off without a hitch. We didn't have t-shirts. We only had 11 kids. The slideshow was AWFUL (and I can say that since I put it together). But, you know what? None of that mattered one little bit. We had 11 kids who got to go to camp for the first time ever. Most of these kids had never even spent a night away from home up until that point. And, the amount of trust that those parents and caregivers put in us was amazing. We were winging it and the thing worked. 

Pretty t-shirts...
We've watched our numbers increase every year. We've watched our campers grow up right in front of us. Many of those original 11 kids still come each year. We've graduated one and we have a few more graduating this year. If you had asked me back in June of 2005 if this was going to be something this lasting and powerful I would have had my doubts. The lesson here is this: do not get in front of Lindsey when she sets her mind to do something.

Now, the whole reason that I'm writing all of this down was a song. I'm always looking for music for the slideshow. It really is disturbing how many Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus songs I have in iTunes. Anyway, as I was flipping through my iTunes library this evening, I came across this song: Lovely by Sara Haze. Now, if you've never heard this song before, go and at least preview it on iTunes and get an idea of what it's about. Here you go: Sara Haze - Lovely

Got that done? Good.

Now, this isn't my typical music. In my car I mainly listen to Talk Radio these days. It's actually kind of depressing. No, this song was something I downloaded at Camp Horizon 2012 at the request of one of our campers. You see, on Saturday night of camp each year we have a giant talent show. Giant. Huge. Amazing stuff. This camper decided that she was going to sing for everyone. Now, she's an amazing girl. She spends most of her time in a wheelchair these days. She's one of the most encouraging people I know. Always has a positive attitude regardless of the situation.

So, talent show time and I cue "Lovely" up on the sound system. Never heard this song before in my life. What happened over the next 3 minutes literally stopped the world around that campfire. Here was a child belting out a song about being "lovely the was that she [is]". She doesn't have to conform to what the world wants her to be. Here was a kid who was dealt a bad hand and she has totally owned it. Here was a kid who knew more about who she was than I ever will know about myself. And that is beautiful…and amazing…and incredible…and she will never know how touched I was at that moment.

Doing her thing...
You see, what's amazing is that this was an experience that I would have missed out on if it weren't for the efforts of Lindsey getting this whole operation up and off the ground. I know that I protested and grumped and groaned at least the first year or two. Some might say that I can be a bit obstinate and stubborn at times. I did not make it easy. And look at what I would have missed.

This is only one tiny example of the awesome things that happen at Camp Horizon each and every year. I would like to think that I am a bit more supportive these days. I am really proud of the things that we have accomplished over the last 8 years. I look forward to continuing to have these experiences many many years into the future.

And this, dear readers, is just one example of how awesome my wife is and always will be. We should all be so fortunate to have someone this incredible in our lives. I know I'm lucky and blessed... 

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home