The second week of camp is in full swing, which is a very good thing for the Monster.
Camp means that we’re back on a semi-fixed schedule, which is good for helping him regulate himself – he knows what to expect day-in and day-out at the house, and he’s shown that he does much better when there’s structure in place to keep him moving.
We’re still – as I keep referring to in my blog posts – struggling with what to do about lunch for him, and I’ve simply taken to overpacking food in the hopes that he’ll eat enough to sate himself between all of the activities he’s doing. It’s definitely not like at school, where we also know that he’s going to have something to eat on arrival and sometime before he heads home, but we think we have it at least in a good place for him.
He’s taken to the difference in the bus routine well enough. For school, the bus pulls up right in front of our house, so we wait inside until the bus is visible, and then we walk outside to it. The camp’s asked that we be waiting for it when it arrives, preferably at the curb, and they come in from the opposite direction (which makes little sense to us…), but he’s shown few problems with waiting patiently at the curb, sitting, until the bus comes into view at the nearby intersection.
And our biggest concern really has been his one-on-one.
Even when we met him, we got the feeling that J is a great kid – but the emphasis has to be on the word “kid”. (Which just emphasizes how old I am.) He’s a high school student in his third year working at the camp, with a year as a CIT and a year as a special-needs shadow under his belt. It’s not like we’ve not had a teenager watching him before, but… this is at camp, not our house or the Monster’s grandparents’ house, and there’s a lot more perception of potential danger in that environment between the pool, lake, and other things… And J is doing fine. He’s writing us detailed notes every day, since he knows that the Monster’s narrative language has severe deficits, and he’s being good about asking us questions if he’s not sure of how to handle things like figuring out when/if the Monster needs to go to the bathroom.
The one thing J hasn’t mentioned is how hard it has been to keep the Monster doing what the group is doing. There are ten or so other kids in the “bunk” at his camp, and two other counselors, and a bunch of five year olds can be very, very difficult to wrangle, moreso with a child with Autism possibly causing further disruptions. I am hoping that the Monster’s doing what everyone else is doing – at least to the limits of his abilities – and is having a good time… while not being a problem for his counselors and J.
Well, okay, there is one minor thing worrying me still – Ramadan starts on Monday evening. Yes, that’s a weird concern perhaps for a Jewish parent of a child at a Jewish camp… but in the conversation we had with J when we went up for orientation, he sounded to be an observant Muslim, which means a complete daytime fast for the month. (He referenced an inability to submerge his head in the pool during part of the summer due to a fast, and I’m acquainted well enough with the customs to put two and two together.) Having been observant of a summer fast myself – Tisha B’Av strikes usually in August, and I was a counselor and lifeguard for several summers – I just hope he’s taking proper care of himself so he can keep a handle on the Monster if he is being handful. I know that when I was working at a camp, I used to have to break fast and drink water during the day to stay properly alert and healthy under the hot summer sun. And I’m sure I’m just being overprotective of my child, but it is a worry of mine.
Overall, though… it does feel like we were worried for nothing about how camp was going to work for his first time going to a real one…