Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What if we actually went camping with a bunch of bleeders?

I never needed toys while growing up. My playground was the great outdoors and my imagination was better than anything my mom or dad could have bought me. I will admit that, most often, my imagination caused many painful memories because most of my ideas were dangerous, stupid or illegal. For some reason the police frown upon kids dropping water balloons from 20 feet in the air onto cars as they pass under trees. Who knew?

My imagination is what my brother and I used to pass days upon days during the summer. We would even use it to stay up way past our bedtimes trying to fool our parents into thinking that we were asleep. You can ask my mother. I designed a system to turn my light switch on/off from my bed using paper clips, fishing line and the random assorted tools and gadgets my dad had left in his toolbox. Maybe I was just a weird kid, but thinking about my childhood brings me to one of my biggest concerns. What is my son going to do to entertain himself?

My son does not have a bleeding disorder like I do, which may be good or bad. Time will tell. However, I think one of my greatest excitements is going to bleeder camp. I am old school. I love going outside, working on things and finding ways to entertain myself still. However, I like my fair share of shooting noobs in the face and tea-bagging opponents who need to be taught a lesson.

For me, bleeder camp was the event of the year (excluding the Fourth of July). I loved building and strengthening relationships with individuals who also had some of the same difficulties I had growing up. I loved all of the activities I was able to do because most of it was new for me. I even loved education and learning about bleeding disorders and random facts that no one else cares about.

So unfortunately, my son won't have a wonderful opportunity to experience the great outdoors through bleeder camp. I emphasize great outdoors because bleeder camp is barely a venture into the outdoors. There are trails to follow (usually gravel) and there is a return to the wonderful invention of air conditioning when it's time to sleep. Realistically, it is more of a conference than a camp, but I think that can be changed.

What if we actually went camping with a bunch of bleeders? I am not saying that the current format of camp is not valuable, nor am I saying it is wrong. I am just wondering, what if we switched it up a bit? It does not have to be for an entire week. God knows someone would probably die if it was that long. What about a couple days, one night in the peaceful serenity of a place where cell phones do not work and the only way to see is from the light of a campfire? The kids would have to set up their own tent, cook their own food and dig their own toilet. I know this sounds a lot like boy scouts. Maybe I am just jealous because I quit during cub scouts since I was not able to play with fire soon enough. Who knows? But I think we need to spice camp up a bit.

My first camp was in 1992 when I was eight years old. I have been to approximately 20 bleeder camps (in different locations) since I started. At about six of those camps I was a counselor or counselor-in-training, so I know a bit about camps. My solution is to let us go camping. I think that most of the camps prohibit electronics anyway, but friendships are made from experiences. Sometimes you can become really good friends just by talking with someone or conversing, but in my experience, my best friendships, especially in the bleeder community, have been built because of the different experiences I have had with the individuals. I can not go into much detail, but the reason I love camp is because of the experiences I had with my fellow campers. Most of the experiences were not scheduled by the director but something our counselor let us do because he understood the purpose of camp.

Let me correct myself. I do not think we need to necessarily go camping like Davy Crockett, but I think we need to create opportunity for friendship-making experiences. How often do kids with bleeding disorders get to hang out with other bleeders? I lived two and a half hours away from the closest bleeder when I was growing up. So I cherished the time I had when we were able to make it to an event put on by the hemophilia chapter. I may be completely wrong and there may not be a need to make opportunities that are different than what we currently offer. However, I may be right... so think about it, mull it over in your noggin before you just dismiss it. My son will not be able to attend bleeder camp like I can, so it is already a special camp for rare individuals. I want to make it the best camp for the best individuals and I think changing it might not be a bad idea.

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