I believe in the good of our youth, and that children are in fact stronger and more intelligent than many accept as true today. I learned this from working as a camp counselor last summer.
In the beginning of June 2006, I was getting ready to work as a camp counselor at Camp Olson in northern Minnesota. Well aware that I would be working with seven to fourteen year old girls, I was very nervous. I was worried for various reasons; perhaps the girls would have major hyperactivity problems, ignore my every word, or have any sort of social problems. Bottom line: I had no idea what to expect.
The first cabin assigned to me was a group of girls ages twelve to thirteen. I was so scared, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Then my counselor coordinator dropped the bomb on me, “One girl in your cabin, Lucy, has diabetes, and she will need your assistance this week.” I could feel my heart beginning to race, and my anxiety level reaching an ultimate peak. I was suppose to wake Lucy up every night at 2 a.m. to make sure she was giving herself shots of insulin. In addition to that, I had to see to it that she was taking her shots at every meal. I did not know anything about Diabetes, and I certainly was not in any way excited about waking up at two in the morning every night. I was honestly frightened about that week, and dealing with Lucy was the last thing I wanted to do.
When my campers finally arrived the next day, I was relieved by how normal they seemed. They were delighted to meet me, and they all had a refreshing sense of excitement to be at camp. I was then greeted by Lucy, who to my surprise was seemed completely normal. She had short, brown hair and a large smile with braces that had pink rubber bands. She was so sweet! Lucy began talking to me about how nervous she was about coming to camp, thinking that the other girls in our cabin would make fun of her because she had diabetes. I told Lucy that she had nothing to worry about, and having diabetes did not make her “weird”. She then smiled, and I noticed a sense of confidence that came over her.
Lucy fit in well with the other girls. No one even took notice of her diabetes. The girls in our cabin saw her for who she was, and accepted her as a normal girl. In addition to the girls getting along, Lucy knew exactly what she was doing when it came to her illness. Every meal she injected insulin into her body with no problems. When I checked on her at two in the morning, her flashlight was already on and she was giving herself her shots. I was so proud of her, thinking of the great deal of strength that she had. At twelve years old, she was able to check the glucose level of her blood and give herself shots four times a day. I asked Lucy if she was scared and if it bothered her, and she told me that she got over her fears of needles pretty easily, and she believes that having Diabetes has made her a stronger and more responsible person. I agreed and smiled.
To this day I thank Lucy for helping me get over my fears of working with children. Lucy proved to me that children do have courage, and can be stronger than adults in many situations. She also showed me that you can overcome any frightful situation that is thrown at you. I am so proud of Lucy, and have so much to thank her for. I hope to see Lucy next summer, beautiful smile and all.
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