I was looking up information on camp George, a camp for kids with Tourette’s, seeing if I might be able to volunteer. I wound up on a religious forum (a tiny, tiny minority, this is not a generalization) all yowling about the camp, and how those “little retards” were actually just possessed by devils. “They should come to our camp! We’ll fix ’em!”
They can suck it. They can suck it until their jaws drop off. And then I’ll beat them with their jawbones.
Anyway, I did just get back from Camp George in California, and it was disappointingly free of devils and demons. Just a lot of sweet kids and hopeful parents and good people.
Named after George De La Tourette, Camp George is a camp for kids with Tourette’s and their parents. It’s sort of the West Coast version of Camp Twitch and Shout.
I flew in Saturday afternoon. The camp is on top of a hill above a beautiful park where the land has to cost millions per acre. There was a breeze that never stopped. It was about 75 degrees. When it got dark I heard a mountain lion scream. I got to ride in a golf cart. I got my own bed, and so on.
The best part of the camp, as always, was meeting people. but this one was especially sweet, because I got to meet some people I’ve only known online for years.
Ethan Nicodemus and I started a blog about Legos a few years ago. His mom, Larissa, had contacted me to talk about TS and off we went. The Nicodemus’s have become a second family to me. Or third, of fourth, or whatever. I tend to get adopted by everyone who write to me about TS.
They drove up from Riverside for the talk, and Ethan was kind enough to sit by me at lunch and make sure I didn’t get nervous. Behold! Behold I say! Such a cool kid, and brilliant. I fully expect us all to be working for him one day. And Larissa was every bit as great in person as I could have hoped for, no surprise there.
Then I gave a talk which devolved into basically 30 minutes of me crying. But I saw two other men in the front row crying, so mission accomplished. Once I feel myself getting weepy my only goal is usually to make sure that I’m not the only guy bawling. Success!
Here’s a picture of me and the new army. It was like the Braveheart speech, but more so.
Tough, tough, wonderful kids. If any of you who were there are reading this, you remember what I said: This is happening, and I’m glad, because it brought us together. You’re going to be fine. Even when you’re not. I love every single one of you who was in that room. Believe it.
Then it was time to sign like an OG. Just look at this Hunter S. Thompson wannabe.
The trip went too fast. I had to fly back about 24 hours after landing. But I’ll be back next year for any of you who asked.
For those of you in the TS community, nothing is more important than perseverance, advocacy, and supporting each other. You hold on to whoever you’ve got and you tell me if I can help.
A few specific messages for you kids who asked specific questions, you’ll know who you are:
- Yes, you can get a driver’s license. You don’t want to be pedaling chicks around on your unicycle.
- Yes, anger and loneliness can help you make art. I suspect more art than we’ll ever know comes from dark places
- No, there’s nothing wrong with saying “I hate this and it’s not fair.” It just can’t be the only thing you say.
- Yes, you can have a normal life.
- Yes, being as tall as me is great.
- In my experience, confidence is the total lack of self-consciousness
- Yes, I will try to come to your birthday party if you remind me
- Bullies? Go for the biggest one first. They’ll stop if you teach them that you’re not worth the hassle. DEFY them with every breath you take.
And if you’re part of the ignorant community calling us “retards,” you know where I’m at. Bring your jawbone.