So someone asked me for the story behind the photo below and so Tuesday’s will now be known as a day of tales and stories from inside of my head and out of my mind.
The first of which takes us back to the summer of 2009 and a cabin in the woods known as Hyde and Watson. I was returning for my second year as Village Chief (Unit Leader) of a village of 10/11 year old boys and thought I’d seen it all. Then there was Boy A (name changed…obviously). Boy A was a runner. For those of you in the know, this means that he regularly decided to just up and leave, walking away from the group or me the, supposedly, adult in charge. During this time he would completely shut-down and refuse to speak to anyone.
At first this was not something I was accustomed to. Campers listened to me. I was the Chief, not feared but respected. Who was this camper to walk away? Well that attitude got me nowhere fast. No matter how much effort and attention I aimed towards him he would just keep on walking or, if stopped, just sit and do a great impression of the rock that would later symbolize our relationship. No movement, no sound.
One day, during a rest hour in the creek BOY A got one of his shoes, that he refused to take off, wet and shut down completely. Now something awesome about the rocks in this particular creek is that you can form a rudimentary paint with them and can be used as writing implements. All I did was make a smiley face on one side, and wrote “I’m here” on the other. That was it. Nothing magical. Nothing special. Just a small gesture that was the spark in building a wonderful and understanding relationship between us.
Rocks became “our thing” over the next few days. He had one that he would place in my hand if he needed to talk. I would leave short messages on rocks that I placed on his bunk during my time off. Over time BOY A opened up to both my co-counselor and me more vocally and began to form friendships with the other campers. The rocks took a back seat.
That was until the very last day of camp when BOY A was going home. He presented me with the rock that is pictured below and with tears in eyes thanked me for “listening”. I never saw BOY A again as he never returned to camp, much to my dismay. I hope he realizes how important a lesson I took from my time with him.
“Listening isn’t always about being active in opening your ears to what’s being said. Sometimes it’s opening your heart to what’s not.”
If you do, you to can “rock” it at camp. (Sorry I had to put that in.)