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Sunday, June 22, 2014

camp adventure day 3 (pt. 1)

Day 3 (part one): Field Trip

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Note: I am aware that many things I write in this camp journal
are some-what negative in nature. Yes, I do complain. This blog
is not intended to promote the camp. I am not writing a review. I
am simply telling the story of my experience at a camp of
individuals who are DeafBlind.

It's not that I'm a negative person. I also don't pretend to be
overly positive. I have a well-balanced personality. I feel that
makes me more real. What you read here is honesty. Even if I do
complain, you will notice that I still seem to have a good time.
That's just how my life seems to work.

Every year we take a field trip at camp. The trip usually centers
around the theme of camp for that year. This year's camp theme
was "By the Bay." So, naturally that's where we headed.

It has become a trend for us to visit museums. I imagine such
trips are cheaper and easier to manage. I have been outspoken in
the past about my dislike of museums. My opinion still has not
changed. I hoped that the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons,
Maryland might have something to offer. However, I wasn't
counting on it.

We travel on regular school busses. That's never been a problem
for me. At 5 feet, 4 inches, I'm not exactly a big person. After
seeing Scott, who is just over six feet tall, jammed into the bus
seat, I have a new perspective on this subject. Perhaps using
school busses for adults isn't the best idea.

I took the window seat, while Scott sat next to me. He had to sit
with one leg out in the aisle. His other leg was pushing into the
seat in front of us. But crammed in or not, he and I still talked
up a storm.

One nice thing was that the camp got a wheelchair this year. It
was still in the box that morning. As the worst wobbler of the
walking DeafBlind, I got to be the first to use the chair.

We were divided into four groups that would rotate around the
museum and then meet for lunch. I was in the blue group. We
started with sea animals.

Well, we eventually got to that point. There was some waiting,
and I was bored. I decided to mess around with Scott's mind. I
asked him to marry me. He was speechless for a few moments until
I assured him that I was joking. I don't know why he puts up with

Let me explain. The theme for camp was "By the Bay." The big
event would be Andrew and Kelly's wedding at camp on Thursday.
Apparently, they met at West River and decided to get married
there. I'd say it was romantic, but I'm a cynic about love and
all that. An abusive marriage and nasty divorce will do that to

I guess you could say that love was in the air... and not just
for the bride and groom. This led to several people making
comments about me and Scott needing to get married. That's why I
fake proposed. I'm so bad.

The museum had a long, but low, aquarium with fish, turtles and
other sea life. One of my SSP's said it wasn't that impressive.
Campers could reach in and feel the slimy things inside.

They brought a few animals in tubs for Scott and I to feel. First
we saw a star fish and sea urchin. I think there was supposed to
be a snail in there, but I couldn't find it. The big crab was
interesting, I guess. I liked the turtle the best. And I think he
liked me, too.

Turtles are very tactile because you can feel the shell, slimy
body and claws. We were allowed to touch anything except the
head. Did they really mean anything?

Dick was cool because he was moving his legs around as if trying
to swim. I kind of felt sorry for him. I bet he was miserable
having people touch him. Poor guy.

Oh, I don't know what the staff members call him. I named him
Dick because... Well, you can figure it out. It was one of those
outrageous Angie moments. These things can only happen to me. And
they always do seem to happen.

I was feel the turtles back-side, looking for his tail. All I
found was a tiny bump. I was confused. My male SSP informed me
that I wasn't touching the right place, although the tail was
close by. You get the picture.

Scott just about wet his pants when I told him about Dick. He
still won't let me off the hook. Maybe he's jealous.

Our next station involved sitting in the sun waiting for the boat
to arrive. Some people walked along the marshes. I just sat there
and repeated for the 50th time, "It was an accident!"

The boat was a ferry tour around the Chesapeake Bay. I'm sorry,
but that kind of thing just doesn't work for someone who is
totally blind. My SSP could have told me what the captain was
saying, and what she could see. But it's not interesting unless
you can see it for yourself.

The ride was perfectly smooth. There were no waves. Darn! I like
it wild. Scott and I just goofed around, as usual. I admit, I did
like the smell of the water.

The third station was touring the light house. We could walk up
the long, spiral stairs. I don't think so.

Last was the boat galleria. I touched splintered old wood boats
and smooth wood boats. That was the only difference I could tell.

Let's talk about what tactile means. Just because you can touch
something, doesn't mean the exhibit is truly accessible by touch.
For example, I could feel about 10% of each boat. That's only a
small piece of the whole. It's not truly tactile unless you can
feel and interact with 100% of the exhibits. These museum tours
are okay for campers who have some usable vision. But those of us
who are blind or mostly blind are pretty much excluded.

The camp staff had packed lunches for us. The sandwich and
cookies were fine. We randomly got some kind of fruit and chips.
This presented a problem that might not be understood by the
people who make the lunches.

I had Cheeto's and Scott got Doritos. The last thing we wanted
was cheese slime on our hands while we used tactile sign
language. It's hard to get that stuff off without soap and water.

For fruit, I got an apple, and Scott had an orange. He didn't eat
it. How do you eat an orange without a knife? They are very hard
to peal. I prefer apples and most fruit cut into pieces. It makes
it less likely that I will get bits of fruit stuck in my teeth. I
did eat the apple because I really wanted something cold. The
drink box and water they gave up were warm.

After lunch, we were just sitting there. I had no clue what was
going on. I finally asked Ruby and found out we were on free time
and could go anywhere. That was good to know. I wanted to hit the
gift shop.

One thing I like about museums are the gift shops. If given the
chance, I'll skip the museum and just go shopping. There's
usually a lot of cool stuff in there... not this time.

I couldn't find a single thing that looked interesting. Most of
it was over-priced tourist junk. I was really wanting to buy
Joseph a crab t-shirt, since he was born in Maryland. Even those
were lame, and they had none in his side. It was disappointing.
For the first time ever, I left a gift shop without buying

Scott was looking around for prizes for the Tactile Carnival. He
didn't buy anything either. We went out to the lobby to sit in
the air conditioning. A few campers were actually sleeping on
benches or the floor.

I told Scott, "I wish they had vending machines. I'd give
anything for a cold pop." He asked our female SSP if they had any
machines. She went searching. After a long walk, she found some,
and Scott bought two Pepsi's. Sad to say, but the best part of
the field trip was that cool, delightful drink.

The adventure wasn't quite over. I had another Angie-moment.
Scott got into the bus seat first. He looked pathetic with his
knees jammed against the seat. I had him get out so we could
change places. I put my arm out to see if he was out of the way.
That's when it happened... I groped his butt. I actually goosed
him in public. I swear, it was an accident! Why do these things
always happen to me?

Angela C. Orlando

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