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Sunday, June 17, 2012

camp diary day 1

Camp Diary 2012

Sunday, June 10th

Why, oh, why, do good things have to start so early? Of course,
my father is anal about getting to the airport REALLY early. I
was flying to Maryland to attend West River Deaf-Blind Camp for
the 6th time. This year, Joseph was flying with me. He would
spend the week with his dad. This was his first trip on an
airplane, and he was so excited.

I got up at 5:45 AM, hoping I could make it into the bathroom
before my dad. No such luck. I dressed and checked again. He was
still in there. Joseph came to wait in my room with me. We were
trying to keep each other awake. I ended up last to use the

The night before, Joseph was driving me crazy asking many
questions about airport security. I tried to explain, but he
kept saying "that's stupid. You don't look like a terrorist." I
think he was both nervous and thrilled.

Entering the airport sure was a big experience for him. He was
wide-eyed and watchful. He didn't want to miss a thing.

Nobody missed the big crash. My dad was struggling to guide me
and pull my luggage at the same time. He paid more attention to
the bag and accidently walked me face first into the outer corner
of the elevator. Ouch! I hit my head and lip and then fell to the
ground. I knew my leg hurt, but at that time, I was more worried
about my head.

They got me into a wheelchair, and we headed to security. Joseph
finally got the answers to his questions. The Cleveland airport
has a display case with weapons that security has removed from
passengers. This included a ton of knives, nun-chuks and a stick
of dynamite. Joseph was totally awed. He thought it was cool.

Poor Joseph... He had to interpreter for me during my pat down.
The security woman went into great detail about how she would be
checking my breasts. I don't think Joe liked talking about my
boobs... Too weird for both of us. It's another example of why
kids shouldn't be used as interpreters.... but it was also funny.
I had to bite my tongue not to laugh.

We got checked in and boarded the plane. We were the first to get
on and sat in the first row. Joseph got a window seat, just like
he wanted. The woman who sat beside me was quite big and spilled
halfway over into my seat. I didn't have enough elbow room to
read braille.

Joe was amazed when we began to taxi to the runway. He never
realized planes could drive in reverse.

Finally, the big moment came. Joe clenched the arm rest so hard
as we took off. Within two minutes, he declared he loved flying.
He was fascinated by the world below, and how small everything
looked. He chatted non-stop during the entire flight.

The car drive he makes each month takes nearly eight hours. The
flight took less than an hour. As we approached Baltimore, Joe
identified the Chesapeake Bay... four time. Eventually he said he
wasn't sure, but he really liked flying.

Someone from camp was supposed to meet us at the gate. South West
no longer allows that. They took us to baggage claim. I had no
idea where the camp lady was. We met Joe's father. I had a lovely
one-way conversation with me ex. He never said a word. Then they
were gone, and I was alone at BWI.

I did not panic. I had the woman's text number and told her where
I was. She found me in minutes. Soon, we were headed for camp.

I was an early arriver, so I made it to camp before things got
too crazy. The theme for camp this year was "Our Olympic Spirit."
They had campers pick colored visor's during registration to
determine what team they'd be on. I got green.

After I unpacked and made my bed, I went to the retreat center to
chat while other campers and SSP's arrived. It became hectic as
usual, but I just sat and chilled during the worst of it.

I saw many of my old camp friends and met new campers and SSP's.
It's like a big reunion in an alternative world in which everyone
actually speaks my language and there are people to help me have
a great time. It's so much different from life in the real world.

I was most surprised to meet a deaf SSP named Laurie. I was
confused at first as she introduced herself. I discovered I
already knew her. She was my former ASL III teacher from Kent
State. I had sent her info about camp, but had no idea she was
coming. I was surprised and so pleased to have her there.

I had three SSP's this year. Only two worked with me at one time,
while the other was a float. One of them had to leave on
Wednesday. This was my third year working with that particular
woman. We are a great team. My other two SSP's were student's
from Towson University.

While waiting, I met Scott's SSP's. I could not believe they
assigned two young, new girls to work with that trouble maker. I
warned them about him, and insisted they were in for a ton of

Scott is one of my best friends online. We both have horrible
bodies and awesome brains. He's one of my writing mentors. I was
excited to meet him in real life for the first time.

The big moment came, and it was really confusing. I knew he had
trouble with his thumbs that makes signing hard. So many people
were trying to help us communicate. It was overwhelming. At that
point, I thought it would be impossible, but I'm not one to give
up easily.

We went to dinner, and I had our SSP's help us communicate using
his white board. It was a team effort. I spoke to his SSP, and
she wrote my message down on a white board for Scott to read.
Then my SSP relayed his response to me using tactile sign
language. I got some good zingers in and had the pleasure of
leaving him speechless. I never imagined "Snaz" could be at loss
for a come back.

Next, I went outside for a motorcycle ride. This is always fun,
but they don't go far or fast enough for me. I used to be married
to a biker. I miss those wild rides.

After biking, we had announcements in the meeting hall. Every
year it's the same old rules and questions. "When you use the
toilet, hold the lever down for five seconds." Blah, blah,

We had a team meeting, and I got to meet the rest of the green
group. As we voted on our team name, I was trying to keep
suggestions away from Hulk. That's just too obvious and
over-used. But we ended up being called "Green Hulk." Go Green,

At last, it was snack and bedtime. Some people stay up late to
chat and play cards. My body just isn't up for that. My muscles
can only take so much.

We had the nurse come in to check out my leg. By this point, it
really hurt. It seems my brace did something to it when I fell. I
ended up with a glorious purple bruise. There was nothing to do
but deal with the pain. That's fine. I have plenty experience
with bumps and bruises.

I was ready to sleep. This year I tried something new in terms of
bedding. The camp sheets are so thin and crummy. The fitted sheet
never stays in place. And the AC makes the room insanely cold.
The little blanket they provide just isn't enough.

I brought my own sheets and used their pillow and blanket. I had
to pay for it at the airport, since my luggage was overweight. It
was worth it. I also brought a snuggie with me. I slept in PJ's
and knee socks, wrapped in my pink snuggie and tucked in under
the sheet and blanket. Finally I was comfortable enough to sleep.

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