Wednesday, July 15, 2015

And He's Home Again

Lake Manitou has flooded the low road leading into the small resort village of Manitou Beach, where the famous DANCELAND hall resides.

This year, there are ugly bag-barricades all along the beach, on top of a recently built earth barricade.
I park in the curved laneway in front of the main building at Camp Easter Seal, behind vans loading wheelchairs and luggage.
I visit the ladies' room and then go looking for my boy.
I hear his crutches clicking on the floor before I see him, accompanied by two of his camp counsellors. These are always sweet, open-hearted kids whom Emil adores and does not want to leave. He introduces them with great excitement.
Emil is in no hurry to get down this hairpin-turn ramp and out to my car, which can now be moved ahead. I've left the keys in it and permission for anyone to move it when necessary, and a young man does so before we reach it.
We drive away from Camp Easter Seal for another year. From the road along the shore there is no more view of the salt lake and the low hills across the water.
I need to write a letter of appreciation to whoever it is that sponsors these camp trips for Emil. They are the highlight of his year, and of the lives of all the campers, I'm sure, and it is very much appreciated. If the five days weren't paid for, I'd find a way to finance them but it would require a year of saving. So I'm very grateful that there are donors who make the camp possible without creating hardship on the part of the families. As it is, getting him there (paying someone to take him so I didn't have to take the day off) cost $132; because I was able to pick him up myself yesterday, there was only the cost of half a tank of gas. The camp itself would cost more than $1000, I believe, and campers who need a special van to take them there from the city pay about $450 for the transportation.

Emil's report:

They went to the drive-in one night. They went swimming. They had a banquet and dance. He didn't ride horses this year. They rode all over the place on the open-air cart, which reminds me of a houseboat but has wheels and goes on land. They had a talent show with singing. One of the counsellors asked for his phone number so she can call him sometime, and "Maybe she will!"

Before he left home last Thursday, he told us that he might see about getting himself a girlfriend at camp this year. This did not come up during his report. When asked whether he made any new friends among the campers, he mentioned the name of one young man he met and liked. Normally he is completely focused on the counsellors and takes no interest in the other campers. I ask whether he thinks everyone had a good time. Were the counsellors nice to you? Were the other campers nice? Did anyone seem not to be having a good time? Just one, he says, who was crying as they got ready to leave. She probably didn't want to go home, he said.

On the ride back to Wadena, he reached across the front seat and took my hand.

"I like driving with you, Mom."

"I like it too," I replied. "You're an excellent travelling companion."

"When I was a little boy," he recalled, "we went lots of places."

"Yep. We were always driving from Saskatoon to Margo and from Margo to Flin Flon and from Saskatoon to Edmonton or from Margo to Oakburn. If you'd been a baby or kid who fussed all the time in the car, we wouldn't have been able to take those trips. But you liked to go."