Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer Camp

The first summer that Gabe lived with us, I took him to summer camp at Camp Mohaven. He had been there with me for a few weeks a few years before when his mother was battling cancer for the second time. I was working there then. But he had not stayed in a cabin as a camper.
Because of his special needs, the administration decided to give us housing in one of the staff rooms. Gabe would join up with a cabin of boys to go through the activities each day. As it turned out, the counselor that Gabe was assigned to was a good friend of Fred's and I knew him fairly well also. The boys that were in his cabin were mostly boys from our church so Gabe knew them some. I was happy with this.
What I had not expected was the first morning that we were there I realized that Gabe was looking every where for his mother. He had also come to this camp for weekend events with her off and on over the years. He was so sure that if he just looked hard enough, he could find her. When I tried again to explain to him that she was resting and waiting for Jesus to come, he just got very angry with me. "What have you done with her?" he demanded. "Where did you put her?"  It was hard to give him a specific answer. His mother had chosen cremation and her ashes were at a relative's house still. She had not actually been buried yet.
Other than looking for his mother, the rest of the week went reasonably well. Because I had worked there in the past I thought that maybe once he had settled in a bit I would be able to help out around the camp. It did not happen that way. Gabe did not want me to be right beside him most of the time, but he also did not want me to be very far away. He tried everything. I was so happy. When he had been there a few years before, he wouldn't try anything.
He could not wait for his turn to ride a horse. That is all he talked about. The barn director led the horse that he was riding. She told me that he quoted the story of Jesus triumphal entry the whole way along the trial. He just kept repeating. Gabe loves to quote Bible stories and put himself in as one of the characters.
He also did the craft projects, tried to play basketball with the other boys, loved playing fuze ball, tried soccer, went canoeing, and even got in the pool. The pool was the hardest thing for him. He wants to want to swim, but he wants to do it with out actually getting wet.
On Friday night, the worship is always the story of Jesus life. Gabe got so into it that I had to remind him to be quiet and just watch. He was ready to tell the story out loud. It became obvious to me as I watched Gabe watch the play, that he thought that the actor who was playing Jesus was actually Jesus. "I found Him,: he said in awe. "I finally found Him. He can get my Mom and me up to heaven." Wow, how do I handle this, I thought. At the end of the play there is the resurrection scene, followed by Jesus meeting again with the disciples. Then Angels come down over the hill and take Jesus up the hill and out of sight - to heaven.
"Oh he's gone," Gabe whispered. "But I saw him, I really did." An amazing sense of peace seemed to come over Gabe. "It's going to be OK, Susan. It's really going to be OK," he said as if he were comforting me.
As we walked back to our room I said to Gabe, "You know that was really one of Jesus friends telling his story. It wasn't Jesus."
"Really? Why?" Gabe seemed surprised.
"Because Jesus went back to heaven 2,000 years ago. But before He went, He told everyone to keep telling his story. So that was some body who loves Jesus. He was telling everyone the story of Jesus so that they would know it."
"But I saw Him," Gabe said, still in awe. He seemed so in peace that I decided to just let the topic drop for the time being. This attitude of peace seemed to stay with him for more than a week.

One of the things that I did while at camp was to donate some of my knit animal puppets to the camp store. The kids just loved these. Over the course of the years that I worked at camp, I sold hundreds of these puppets to eager campers. it became a big thing to collect them all. Below are some links that will show you these puppets and allow you to purchase some as well.

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