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Welcome to my blog.  It contains stories of my experiences from the past, and related ponderings.
My career has been built on serving people- a combination of working with at risk and traumatized youth, general population youth, and people with developmental disabilities. I have worked in various camps, in the community, in homes and schools, in group homes, after school programs, day programs, a family shelter, and now at a youth shelter. My stories come from any of these settings. I will go out of my way to ensure the privacy of any individual I mention. Names will be fictitious, and time and location will be absent. 

I am currently working to start a camp, called Polaris Youth, for youth who are coping with issues of violence such as abuse, bullying, and witnessing crime. My intention is to start it as a monthly adventure program, to serve as a respite away, and as something consistent to look forward to. It is tricky to work an average of 44 hours a week just to keep my apartment, a…
Recent posts

Music in the Woods

When I was a kid, "secret" trails and hideaways inspired me. Flash forward to age 19, my first summer working at camp.

The summer was hot. I had the 6 and 7 year-olds in my cabin. We had several days straight, where the weather hovered between 115 and 121 degrees, F. As per camp tradition, after lunch each day, every group went to its' cabin, for "Siesta," or rest-time. But kids are restless, bored, and prone to whining. And the cabins weren't very comfortable in the middle of the day.

I had noticed that the coolest place to be was always in the ravine, across camp from our cabin. So I came up with a plan. On a handful of breaks on the first couple days, I borrowed the hedge clippers, and walked over to where the wilderness (chaparral) began, close to our cabin. There was no trail, so I created one - narrow and short, cutting away some shrubbery so it would feel like a hideaway. I told my girls that I was taking them on a secret trail (though I had let the …

Bowling with J

I worked for many years, with a boy who is autistic. When he was about 15, I spent a summer taking him bowling on a weekly basis. He struggles to control his body. He doesn't speak (he's said a couple words on rare occasion, and half a sentence once, but it took everything in him, and hasn't happened since). People tend to think he's not very bright. If only they paid attention.

Often, people with autism have a hard time with expressions, but he is good with them. I can tell when he's happy, sad, mad, amused, amazed, annoyed, is thinking something along the lines of, "no-duh!", or disagrees. He laughs at my sarcastic humor. He gets sad if someone implies that there is something wrong with him. If I explain something about science, he is intrigued. It is always on his face when he disagrees with me.

When we'd bowl, I'd help him hand-over-hand. Bowling alleys often have assistive equipment such as a ramp. I could have him wheel the ramp to the lan…

Like Lightning

Another camp. 3 counselors per cabin of 6 or 7 teenage girls. It served a combination of needs. Some kids had developmental disabilities. Some had experienced trauma. In our cabin, three of the girls were autistic. This girl only seemed to say two things: First was, "Number two no touching!" which meant that she had touched something- or more often, someone, roughly, and a staff had caught her. My assumption is that in school, there are a list of rules, and #2 has to do with not touching others. We'd call her name, she'd shout, "Number two no touching!" we'd affirm it, and she'd put her hands down. The other thing I heard her say was, "NoooOooooo!" as she ran off. At this camp, we tried to be flexible with activities. Often, she and I would spend free-time, skipping and galloping a quarter mile across camp, then skipping and galloping a quarter mile back. She loved it. What she hated, it seems, was swimming. It took three attempts at getti…

My Fire

There was a young girl - 5 or 6 years old, who arrived one day. She was quiet, and didn't stand out at first. I worked with her and the other girls, guiding them through their first day at camp. At camp, that first day is about meeting the counselor, learning ther rules, and playing ice-breaker games to help them to get to know each other. All my girls seemed timid and sweet, and I expected a great week. Evening came, and I prepared them for bed. With all tucked into bed, this one began sobbing. She said she couldn't sleep. Not wanting her to disturb the others, I pulled her down from her bunk, and cuddled her as I took her out on the front stoop. I sat with her in my arms and rocked her, talking to her, asking her questions to distract her. She kept saying she missed her mom. Nothing I said seemed to help. I drew from my own experience: that kids don't get along with siblings. I thought I'd use this- if she had siblings, I could point out that she was away from them f…