My trepidation ceased when I realized how rewarding the work was. Many of the campers face some pretty significant challenges, and helping them do the things most of us take for granted – hiking, playing kickball, drawing a picture – made them happier than anyone I’ve seen.
The job forced me to use my head in ways I never thought I’d need to, ranging from thinking on my feet when dealing with aggressive behaviors to handling the emotional intensity of spoon-feeding people old enough to be my grandparents. But as I was confronted with these situations, I found myself getting better at finding solutions. A dead battery in a motorized wheelchair would be a crisis for most people, but after two summers on the job, I could handle it no problem – all I needed was a manual wheelchair, a pillow, some duct tape and a few pool noodles.
By the time I left in 2012, I was a completely different person than I was four summers previous. Camp Pow Wow helped me grow up.