My younger son Michael got hurt at camp this evening. Nothing serious, thankfully, and down the road, it’s probably going to be a funny story that involves a late stay at camp and a misdirected flaming marshmallow.
I work at this camp, but I’d left for a few hours at the end of the day with my older son and some friends to run some errands and have dinner. When I returned at 8:00 to pick Michael up, I was quietly taken aside by the camp director, who began our conversation with “First thing – he’s fine.”
After getting the full story, I came to find out that a boy backed away from a campfire with a burning marshmallow that somehow ended up on Michael’s neck. I totally get that accidents happen (ironically, as a child, I was burned at camp with a misdirected mess kit frying pan from over a campfire). As soon as I saw Michael, I knew he was fine, and there was barely even a mark on his neck.
And I was fine, too, until I spoke to the people who took care of Michael and I think probably kept him from really being burned. At which point, I started crying. Michael’s counselor, barely even an adult himself, saw the incident as it was happening, scooped Michael up, carried him to the nurse’s office and (according to Michael, anyway) kicked the door open to bring Michael inside. The nurse, who took no chances, lay Michael down on the floor and poured water on his neck, because she wasn’t sure what might be going on underneath what she saw, which was black char on a child’s neck. The camp director and the assistant director, who both took a look at Michael to make sure he was okay. And whoever made the poor kid with the marshmallow stick (who apparently felt pretty bad) apologize to Michael.
Every day, we send our kids off to places where we can’t watch them ourselves, and trust that the adults who are with them will keep them safe. What I realized tonight is that there really are people who take care of other people’s kids as if they are their own. Who don’t think twice about doing whatever it takes to make sure that a kid is really okay (and that even though he’s waiting for his mom with the nurse – and his favorite counselor, who happened to be the one who carried him to the nurse – that he still gets his s’more before he heads home for the night).
I’m grateful for those people tonight, and the others who quietly keep an eye on all of our kids when we aren’t there to watch them ourselves.