Peace, Love & Rock-n-Roll

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A few summers ago I worked for Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation in the Therapeutic Rec department.  They run a program called Camp Explore for participants from elementary through age 21 to participate in health classes, music, drama, games, science, and a whole lot more.  All of the participants have some type of special need.  Some are very talkative, some don’t talk at all.  Some are very speedy, while some don’t walk at all.  It is very hard work but also incredibly fulfilling and inspiring.

The highlight of each summer is the Talent Show on the last day of camp.  It is always a packed house–standing room only.  The parents, friends and community at large file in early, parking all around the host school.  I knew when I got my seat and program that I was in for a treat!

Camp Explore 3

There was a garage band, Taylor Swift, music from The Voice and American Idol, story time with the 3 Little Pigs and a Big Bad Wolf, puppets,  guitar solos, patriotic songs, and dance moves galore.

camp explore 5

The thing that I loved the most was watching great courage and unbridled joy on the faces of each participant, and the excited staff members and volunteers who support them wholeheartedly.  Also, I was surrounded by proud parents.  THAT was an environment pulsating with joy!

Camp Explore 1

I was amazed at all the participants–not just the ones on stage performing their talents, but also the ones who waited patiently in folding metal chairs with their staff through the two hour program and slideshow.  It made me think…

Sometimes it feels like the whole world is swirling around while we wait, invisible.  Each person is valued.

Other times life thrusts us into an unexpected spotlight when we’re not sure we’re ready.  Each person has risks.

Often we make noise and a racket when it’s not our turn.  Each person deserves to be noticed–in or out of the spotlight.

Camp Explore 2

Yet other times, we know our stuff backwards and forwards, say our lines and sing our songs with confidence–perfection be damned.

Before we go and after we are finished we acknowledge others, clap our hands, stomp our feet, or cheer enthusiastically for someone else when it’s their turn to shine.  Each person is an individual champion.  However, we are always more victorious together than we would ever be alone.

What I learned from the 2013 Camp Explore participants is that when it comes my turn to shine, I can proceed knowing I have prepared, and in the meantime, I cheer.

Camp Explore 4

**And when my boss asks me “Are ya busy?” I say “YES!”

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