A Good Boy with a Giant Heart: A Camp Story

by Jesse Hall, Youth Programs Manager
October 2015

Late in the camp registration season, I received a phone call from a mom. She was looking for something her son could do over summer. She heard about Explore! camp at school, and she needed a program for him that was free or low cost. This mother was immediately warm and loquacious. Phone calls from parents often last 2-3 minutes, but we ended up talking for a long time.
"Tell me about your son," I asked her.

Many parents answer with their child's name, age, and grade level. This mom said: "Well, he's a very sweet young man with a giant heart."

We talked about his performance in school and his rambunctious and sensitive spirit. She felt that Explore! would be a great fit because it would offer him both science learning and recreation.
As we spoke, she repeated, "he is a good boy." In the application forms, she wrote the same. Upon meeting him, I had no doubt he was a good kid. He was playful and honest and active. Like his mother, he was warm and talkative, and he was delightfully headstrong: "Why can't I just do what I want, and go where I want, whenever I want?" His questions put a smile on my face.

Watching this boy learn, grow, and make new friends over two weeks was wonderful. He was competitive and curious. Like all kids, he loved to win, but he also wanted to make sure others followed the rules. He was inquisitive. He had a mind that yearned for more information. He always wanted to show me something he could do, whether it was throwing something the farthest or making the best floating boat.

Saying goodbye at the end of camp was hard. 

I learned that his family was about to move to Florida. He would start the new school year here, but not finish it. I also knew that mom had surgery during camp. She needed help with daytime supervision as well as the emotional support through the weeks. I could see that this boy loved his mom. Had he known more about the situation, he would have been distracted and worried. Mom came out of surgery just fine, and her son had a wonderful time at camp.

On our last day, mom held my hand. She looked into my eyes and cried. She handed me a gift card and insisted I keep it. "It isn't much," she assured me, "so don't worry about it." I politely thanked her, and she continued. "I could not have done these past two weeks without you," she confided. "I needed help, and you were there."
Her gratitude extended beyond receiving financial assistance or supervision for her child during the day. She wanted me to know that he had learned and grown, that he had a great time, and that she was thankful for the EV, Explore! camp, and everything that had happened.

It is rare that people will directly tell you the impact you have had on their lives. When they do, it leaves an impression. I am thankful to have met this mother. I am thankful to have helped her son develop new skills and learn new things. I am happy that Explore! camp was a part of what I hope is a lifelong path of growth, caring, and asking more questions. This is why I lead summer camp and why I believe that camp can be an invaluable part of a child's life.

Stay tuned for more stories from Explore! camp. Interested in learning more about summer camp? Join us for Explore! in 2016! Contact Jesse@Evols.org.