As we sit in the shade listening to the roar of rollercoasters and the screams of nearby children, I wonder if the first field trip of Eureka! was at an amusement park because it set up the incredibly obvious and accurate metaphor: this week was a rollercoaster. The past five days have held so much more emotion than I could have ever expected, and I have been in situations that I never thought I could be prepared for. As the rest of the staff share some of their experiences from the week, I reflect on mine.
There have been countless peaks of this week, but two in particular made me feel like I am being productive and that my presence has actually helped some of these girls. The first was concerning a girl who is known to have some more particular needs than the average camper. After an incident with her on Tuesday, I was asked to spend some time with her to make sure she stayed safe and happy, and we had a long conversation on some of the things she loves. The next day, I heard she was asking for me in the morning, and it made me feel incredibly happy that she felt some kind of connection to me already. The second was during my STEM class on Wednesday. I could not have asked for a better class. They were excited when we wanted them to be, concentrated when we asked them to, and I felt like they took away everything that we wanted them to. I was so proud and for a while felt like this was exactly where I need to be.
As amazing as some parts of the week have been, there have been plenty of low points as well. There have been time where I feel incompetent at my job, and that there is nothing that I can give these girls during their time at camp. The same girl I mentioned above was incredibly disappointed and walked away when I told her I hadn’t been able to watch her favorite movie. Seeing her back as she left made me wonder if any progress I had made the day before had just vanished, and if she was feeling incredibly disappointed in that moment. There was bullying in my class on Thursday, and I felt incredibly powerless. One of the girls teared up and was taken outside by one of the volunteers in my room, and once she left I didn’t know if I should continue the class as normal or if I should take a moment to talk to the bully, a task I felt completely incompetent at. And of course, there is the pure exhaustion at the end of every single day.
As I sit here, I listen to the others share their own experiences, and how they have had different ups and downs of the week. How some have had to deal with casual racism for the first time in their lives. How some already have girls asking for them every hour that they’re not together. How some feel responsible for every positive and every negative thing that has happened this week. I also think about how, even though there have been so many times where I feel unsure, I am also unreasonably happy and proud of how this week has gone. And so, even though it is incredibly cheesy, sitting in an amusement park feels perfectly fitting for the end of this rollercoaster week.