Summer!

This is my twenty fifth year attending a day camp during the summer.  I started as a camper, and worked my way up the ranks to senior counselor.  I have been at my current camp since 1999.  While at camp, the owners, supervisors, and fellow counselors have created a family-like bond.  A bond that keeps me coming back every single summer.

There was a time where I could not attend camp.

In the summer of 2007, I had just been diagnosed with Listeria.  I had a PICC line in my arm, and had to give my self IV antibiotics every four hours.  How could I attend camp?  The antibiotics were so harsh on my stomach, it made my Crohn’s even worse.  I tried to attend camp that season for a few days, but it jus wasn’t working.  I remember running as fast as I could across camp to the nearest bathroom.  It was embarrassing, exhausting, and not fun!  It did not help that the heat combined with diarrhea left me dehydrated day after day.

Camp was getting harder and harder to attend every day. I thought this would be the last year ever that I would attend camp.

Fast forward ten years later.

This summer as been the best since I have gotten sick.

I am the counselor for the fifteen year olds.  They are a great bunch that are full of energy.  They keep me young!  This summer as pushed my comfort levels, but I have been so successful.  I sat down all the campers, and explained to them exactly what Crohn’s is, and how it affects me.  I told them that I would have to leave the bunk often to relieve myself.  They were so OK with it.  I also told them that I don’t like wearing a shirt in the summer, because of the heat.  They would see all my battle scars from my surgeries.

So basically, instead of making it a surprise, I showed them what the scars looked like.  I was so proud of myself that I built courage to tell them.   I do excuse myself from the bunk from time to time during the day to relieve myself.  I don’t feel as weird, but it is still in my head.   I also walk around without my shirt on.  I get looks from others in camp who don’t know who I am.  But my campers, they don’t say a word.

The other day, a few campers came to me and thanked me for an amazing summer they are having so far.

They also wanted to know if it was ok for them to ask me questions about my experience.  We literally sat at a picnic tale for two hours as we talked.  I told them stories of my experiences with Crohn’s. I was so amazed about how interested they were about my experience. It was an eye- opening experience for me.   My campers and fellow counselors  are my extended family.  They have accepted me for who I am, and allowed me to continue to enjoy my favorite part of the year…. Summer!

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