By: Wills Porter
*Disclaimer: The following is strictly based on my own experiences and in no way is meant to give medical advice. As I always advocate for, be your own best advocate and listen to the doctors that know your medical situation the best.*
Towards the end of last month, I was blessed to return to Camp Independence. For anyone who knows me, you know what Camp Independence means to me. I have Witten and discussed this topic at great length on my podcast and in my blog writings. In all my years of attending camp, I have only missed once due to illness. For me, going to camp is a yearly thing. However, going to camp isn’t a means of escape. This is no weekend getaway to the beach. This isn’t a trip to Disney. To me, this is a yearly commitment I make to give back to the very camp that made me who I am. My life was changed at Camp Independence and as a counselor I now get to speak life and mentor campers through their own transplant journey. Given that I take camp so seriously, I was devastated when we could not meet during the summer of 2020. Without Camp Independence, last summer was not the same. For all of last year I waited and hoped that Camp Independence would return in 2021. Fast forward to today and I can happily say that Camp Independence is back and here to stay
They say you don’t know what you have until it is gone. That is definitely the case with regard to Camp Independence. Growing up as a camper and now being a counselor, I just expected camp to always exist. This was my first mistake. What I failed to realize over the years of being a counselor was just how much camp meant to me and how much of an impact I made at camp. I fully understand the important role I have as a counselor. However, until this year, I didn’t fully understand how much my campers look up to me. What I learned this year was this camp isn’t about the songs. This camp isn’t about the volunteers. This camp isn’t even about the campers. Rather, this camp is about family. This camp is about making an impact that is bigger than yourself. In short, having camp canceled for a year helped me realize just how much I love and care about the campers I work with. In a way, you could consider this to be my calling.
Welcome to the COVID Chronicles
Camp Independence this year was a truly special experience. This year I experienced camp moment by moment. At the same time, I was also extremely observant. I specifically spent camp observing my campers. You see, for many of the children that came to Camp Independence, this was their first real introduction to the outside world since COVID-19 started. With all the pent up energy I got to witness some truly special things at camp that I will remember for the rest of my life. At the same time I also knew that what I was experiencing the world deserved to know about. The world needed to somehow see what I was seeing. So, I began doing what I know to do. I started writing.
To start the COVID Chronicles I believe that it is only appropriate to set the stage. It is no secret that COVID-19 has changed the world. However there is an aspect of COVID-19 that has rarely been shown. That is, the impact of COVID-19 on the transplant community. Since COVID-19 started, I have been recording my thoughts and observations about this exact topic. Three months ago, I was led to compile some of these writings and the blueprint for COVID chronicles was born. After many months of work, the time has now come to bring this project to light.
Introducing the COVID Chronicles…
Here I stand…
Nametag in hand.
Camp is what I see but this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.
There may be smiles.
There may be laughs.
There may be cheers.
Yet beneath it all…
I see their fears.
I see their tears.
Longing for a day when we can say that they are truly going to be okay.
You see were all immunosuppressed…
So… Naturally a lot of us are stressed.
But fear, I just have to say…
That we’re better off without you anyway.
Many of us have faced you before.
Many of us have kicked you out the door.
Now here you come once again.
Trying to take us out from within.
Fear, you seek to divide.
Fear, you try to make us all hide.
Fear, we just have one thing to say…
You will not win the day.
People say lock in, and it may work well…
But isolation and depression it just doesn’t sell.
It puts you in a cell.
In this cell we live day by day.
Hoping that somehow this is the way.
But deep down we have limits inside.
At the end of these limits, we have nowhere to hide.
I’m tired of being lectured to about what I ought to do and say
By people who pretend their words are going to save the day.
I’m tired of seeing people crippled by fear.
Like we’re surprised COVID’s everywhere.
I may be immunosuppressed…
Yet, I refuse to be stressed.
I refuse to give in to the darkness within..
Or listen to people and news that do nothing but paint grim views.
I refuse to be viciously victimized, paralyzed, and ultimately terrorized.
To the transplant kid who is afraid to go out.
I see you through the mirror.
In the reflection I see clearer.
For I too am one of you.
It’s time we say enough.
This journey is tough.
Yet, in the darkness of night we must shine our light.
We must bring hope.
How else can we cope.
We must carefully choose what we consume. Lest we be consumed.
Consumed in anger and rage…
Consumed in the fear of our age…
Consumed in stress…
Consumed in this mess.
It’s time we rise and show our glow.
Then the world will know and see how resilient we can really be.
These are the COVID Chronicles… through my eyes.
Soon, you too will see with fresh eyes,
That’s a surprise!
To be Continued…
Kidney Trails Author, BSFCS,MSW, Impact America Media Editor at Large