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Recap from Camp George, Ignorance, and “Suck It Until Your JawBone Falls Off, Then I’ll Beat You With Your Jawbone”

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.

josh-ethan

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.

camp-george

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.

josh-signing

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.

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jack M August 5, 2013, 12:38 pm

    Josh, those kids are so lucky to have you! And you look very cool in those sunglasses.

  • Teena Ray August 5, 2013, 2:23 pm

    You continue to amaze me, Josh! Hopefully, next year, you’ll be able to stay longer.

    Well said to those bullies who think those of you with TS are a bunch of retards. Always makes me wonder what those bullies are dealing with in their own lives that they feel the need to bully someone else! Obviously, they’ve chosen the path of least resistance to get where they are today! Fail!

  • Michael LaRocca August 5, 2013, 9:16 pm

    Josh, this has nothing at all to do with TS, but I’m a big fan of libraries in general and you in particular and I’ve been enjoying your book and your blog, and I have a suggestion…

    Flipping tractor tires. I bet you’d be great at it, with the possible fringe benefit of blogging about some unusual characters.

    Just a thought. I’m now logging off to begin reading, for the first time ever, MISERY. Can you believe it took me so long?

  • Gypsy August 6, 2013, 4:32 am

    You rock. You always rock- but some days you rock way more than others, today for example.

  • Shane August 6, 2013, 7:37 am

    You are one fine man, Josh.

  • Pamela Riederich August 9, 2013, 4:07 pm

    Josh,

    Thank you for coming to Camp George last weekend. It was such an honor and pleasure to meet you. Your talk was so motivating and uplifiting for everyone in attendance. I will admit to being in tears by the end of your speech. Thank you for taking the time to come to Camp. It was so great for the kids to meet someone who has lived with Tourette Syndrome and able to live a “normal” life. LOL. I would have to say you inspired everyone at Camp George. I agree, the Haters can Suck It! My son is the one in the bottom left corner with the pajama’s and glasses.

    I look forward to seeing you at camp next year.

    If you are ever in Orange County and need a place to stay or a meal, please let me know. We would love to see you again.