Being Marist in "The Real World"- Chapter 4

Updated: Sep 23, 2018

Chapter 4: Adult Vacation

*Prior to reading this chapter, keep a couple of things in mind:

  1. I am running on not that many hours of proper sleep as I write this, so this will be all over the place. Please prepare.

  2. Out of respect for privacy, the campers I talk about in this chapter will not be named. If you know who the campers are, you can let me know privately so we can talk more on it.

  3. This may be a long chapter, but it'll be worth the read. I promise.

Let's begin.

Dear Reader,

This past week, I volunteered at one of the many Mid-Hudson Valley Camps. This camp is called "Adult Vacation". I actually believe that it's kind of a mistake on my part to label this as a camp, because the idea of this weekend is to cater to adults with special needs as if they were on a vacation. It's such an amazing cause to say the least. Now, I have a huge place in my heart for the home I've found at the Marist Brothers Center at Esopus & I always had a passion for people, so I knew I wanted to take part in this week. I volunteered last year as kitchen crew, so I was familiar with the environment (so I thought). I had an idea of what the campers would be like, what it would be like to be a counselor, and how the week would go. To say I was mistaken on all aspects of Adult Vacation is SUCH an understatement.

The Mid-Hudson Valley Camp is dedicated to serving diverse populations, while promoting the respect, equality, and equity of all in attendance. {We are} committed to serving the neediest of people, providing them with a safe environment of acceptance and respect. The Mid-Hudson Valley Camp caters to the needs of the campers, most who continue to return each year for a harmonious and fun week of friendship, laughter, and leisure. {We offer} the volunteers a week of fulfillment and opportunities to learn about humility and patience. Thus, unifying an atmosphere of respect, joy, and boundless love that has come to define the Mid-Hudson Valley Camp.

- Mission Statement of Mid-Hudson Valley Camp

I was thrown into this week not even knowing that I was going to be apart of a group. I checked the list of groups and found my name under "Group 4" & INSTANTLY became mortified. I kept thinking that I wasn't going to be what the campers needed. I wasn't going to be a good enough counselor for my team. I wasn't going to have fun. I kept talking to people that I knew expressing my feelings & they all told me that I'd be "okay". I was told about their first times, how they assimilated into the camp culture, how they survived, and etcetera. That STILL didn't help (Well, it DID. Just not enough.) But two of my friends (shoutout to Tristan & Nick) told me something that became the central theme of this week. I can't tell you word for word what they told me, but it was along the lines of: "I can't say anything to prepare you enough for this week. But I know you got this. You're just gonna have to believe me." The bus with the campers came, and the week officially began.

I won't go into extensive details on the week only because I would like for people to experience this for themselves if they haven't already. However, I will tell you this. The hard times were extremely hard. Something I learned this week was that if you're not passionate about ANY part of what you're doing or you're simply not getting ANYTHING out of whatever you're doing, it's best to not do it. Life is WAY too short for you to be doing anything that your heart isn't fully in. The thing about this camp (& maybe even many of the other camps) is that in order for everything to work swimmingly, you NEED to step out of your comfort zone & give ALL of what you can give both psychically, mentally, and emotionally. Maybe even more. It's what everyone (volunteers & campers alike) deserves. It really does take a toll on your being for you to be consistently going full speed without break time. I found myself doing things that I NEVER saw myself doing and I kept finding myself both physically and mentally drained and exhausted. If you were to see me during the difficult moments, you would've thought that I'd end up stealing the bus I came up on and leaving. The bad times always made me wonder "why am I even here?"

However, the good times were beautiful. Like I said before, I don't want to spoil anything by giving away details and stories. It's better to just experience it yourself. I think one of the most beautiful things I heard this week came from one of my campers who looked me in the eye & told me "You guys take care of me, but one day I'll take care of you." That was when it REALLY hit me. The question "why am I even here" was answered. These people are old enough to be my parents, and some can be my grandparents. Essentially, I'm taking care of my parents & grandparents. I'm feeding, clothing, bathing, cleaning, and providing for these people who have been treated so poorly in the "real" world. I heard someone say out loud yesterday that what we did this week isn't "normal", and that's so correct. You can't simply pick people off the street to do this sort of thing. Like I said before, the camp asks for a lot out of the people volunteering. Mind you, the ages of the counselors range from maybe 15 to maybe mid to late 20's. We're starting our lives and these campers lived a lot of theirs already. It's just so crazy and sad to think that these beautiful people aren't as respected out there like they are at Esopus. They literally look forward to this week. They tell stories about these moments we create and they remember them. They remember US. Do you guys know how many campers remember me from last year? I was in the KITCHEN CREW for God's sakes! That's how much these people value this, and it's beautiful. Everything we all endured this week was worth it; and me not getting much sleep, experiencing sensory overload for the first time, and cleaning pee off the floor three times in one day was ALL worth it.

So with this all being said, I want to take this time to highlight some people:

The Kitchen Crew

Y'all are the underrated bops of the weekend & I don't think you guys got enough praise as a whole. But I'm proud of every single one of you & I hope you all return next year!

The Directors/Nurses/Maintenance

Nurse Nikki, Vito & all those in the infirmary, thank you all for your service & for being there whenever we or the campers needed you.

Thomas & everyone in Maintenance, thanks for cleaning up after us...& my apologies for all the times my campers would pee/poop on the floor.

Scott, you did THAT (I'm only gonna give you the shoutout because you're the closest to me)!! I don't know how you kill it EVERY SINGLE TIME, but you do & it's inspiring! Thank you so much for being who you are to me, the counselors & everyone else.

The Campers

I love you.

The Counselors/My (New/Old) Friends

I love you, I'm proud of you & keep putting out positive energy into the universe. You all have great energy coming your way.

Group 4

Niamh (the leader), thank you for being my best friend this week. You did what you had to do & I'm so proud to say you were my first ever leader!

Pam (the glue), thank you for being what you are to these campers. I have so much respect for what you do for them & you make it look SO easy!

Molly (the enforcer), thank you for ALWAYS refusing to cut corners. You handled ALL things that needed to be handled & you did it all with THE MOST ease!

Alyssa (the sweetheart), thank you for being who you are! You always checked up on my mental state & I TRULY can't thank you enough for that!

Alex (the secret weapon), thank you for always coming through for the group & me. I've known you the longest (I think) & I love that I've gotten to get to know you more!

Liam (the legend), thank you for ALL you did for me personally. Simply seeing your face as you walk through any door gave me all the drive & reason to keep it pushing this week!

I love each & every one of you, it hurts. I'll see you all next year! I'm praying for each of you. God bless!!

Oh, yeah. Reader, if you were planning to ask me if I recommend this camp for you, I'll let you know now that I HIGHLY recommend this camp to ANYONE. I'll leave a link that'll direct you to the website & maybe next summer, I'll see you there!

Sincerely Yours Sometimes,


PS: SONG OF THE WEEK: Kali Uchis - After the Storm (featuring Tyler, the Creator)

(Every time I post, I will include a song that may or may not correlate with the topic I write about. This is me thanking you for reading my posts by gifting you with good music.)

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Marist Youth USA

PO Box 197

Esopus, NY 12429

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