I have Tourette Syndrome. It makes me a bit different from other people, often noticeably as I have “tics” (involuntary movements and vocalizations). It led to me being teased and bullied as a kid. In part because of the teasing, but mostly as a coping mechanism, I spent, and still do spend, a lot of my time alone.
Growing up, I never knew or met anyone else with Tourettes. There was an NBA player, Chris Jackson, and MLB player, Jim Eisenreich, that have Tourettes that I would watch on TV. That was the closest I came to being around people going through the same thing as me. However, when I was 23, I went to a Tourette Syndrome conference. For three days, I was with others who have Tourette Syndrome, almost all of them with significantly more severe cases than me.
Part of coping and being productive while having Tourette Syndrome for me is this never ending battle of trying to control my tics, though they are not within my ability to control. Trying to control them is tiring, but it is a battle I must fight in order to be productive in society. I know no other way. When I was at the conference surrounded by people battling the same thing I was, my guard instantly went down. My tics went WILD! I had never had so many tics going on at once. I did not make any effort to control them. I let them go. I was free, and surrounded by people doing the exact same. I had three days of little to no stress. I had three days where I fit right in with everyone, and my tics were accepted as normal. It was the only time in life I experienced that. I imagine that is what Camp Dream is like to all of the children and young adults that attend.
Camp Dream is a summer camp in Georgia for children and young adults with special needs. Many of the children have mobility challenges and are in wheel chairs. Their days are full of challenges you and I can’t imagine going through. For most, in their every day life, their “disabilities” are front and center for all to see. They don’t often feel like they fit in, and despite the best efforts of people to treat them equally, they aren’t treated the same as others. However, when they go to Camp Dream, that changes. They are surrounded by others that are going through the same or similar challenges. It is an environment where they can put their guard down and just focus on being a kid and having fun. It is an environment where they know they are fully accepted and loved by everyone there.
My challenges I face with Tourette Syndrome are nothing compared to what most of the children that attend Camp Dream go through, though my experience at the conference I went to gives me some insight into the value the camp plays in the lives of these children. The camp is a life changing experience for the campers and it creates a lifetime of joyful memories. This is a camp and organization that we should all support.
If you would, join me in supporting Camp Dream by liking their Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/CampDream/. Also, this organization is in need of financial support to help them ensure they can help as many children as possible attend a camp each summer where, “disabilities disappear.” To support Camp Dream GA financially, visit: Donate to Camp Dream.