Replaced with joy

By Sarah Harkness, SwimSailScience Program Coordinator

One of the things that has stood out to me this summer are the leaps and bounds by which our campers have grown in just three short weeks. One camper has stood out in particular - Eddy.

On the first day of camp Eddy had some serious attitude problems. He wouldn't listen; he would physically remove himself from his group; following directions was extremely difficult. At the end of that Monday I sat down with him on a bench overlooking the water. We talked. I asked him about his day - he said it hadn't been very good. I asked why - he wouldn't answer. After some dead end questioning on my part I asked Eddie if he wanted to be at camp. He looked at me and cautiously nodded his head. I told him I needed him to show me he wanted to be here. That I couldn't help him if he wouldn't talk to me. He still wouldn't respond. I told him to think about it over night and we'd talk in the morning. 

The next day it seemed like Eddy was a different person. He was smiling and happy; ready for the day. However, right after breakfast I found him once again wandering away from his group, unwilling to listen. I immediately pulled him aside and asked him what was going on. He told me he was angry. Once again, I told him that if he didn't tell me why then I couldn't do anything to fix the problem. He finally responded that he was upset that he and his brother were not in the same group. I explained to him that camp was a place to meet new people; if he and his brother were in the same group then they would not branch out and make new friends. He grudgingly accepted my response and agreed that he would talk to me if he was angry or upset.

From that moment forward Eddy started talking to me. He would come to me with his concerns and questions. I would explain or answer and he would go on his way. There was no more straying from the group or blatant disrespect. By the end of camp, Eddy was excited to be here every morning. Joking and laughing and begging to return the second session. He still had problems listening and following directions occasionally but, what 9-yr-old boy doesn't? The point is his anger diminished and it was replaced with joy.