Camp Courage

Camp Courage – Here I come.

you're invited

How special do you feel when you get invited to a birthday party, wedding, dinner guest, or a reunion?

We all love to be invited.  I am looking forward to a 60th reunion on Sunday, October 11, 2015. It will be at a memorable place from my long ago past. It will be the 60th Anniversary of Camp Courage, Maple Lake, Minnesota. From 1955 to the present Camp Courage has been changing the lives of children and adults who have had opportunities available to them only by attending a camp stay at Camp Courage. Lives have been changes in dramatic ways. Mine was one of them.

My first time attending Camp Courage was probably in about 1958. I am not sure exactly and my parents are no longer here to ask. The age of 10 seems accurate. I do remember how excited I was and nervous at the same time. Being gone from home for two weeks is a long time for a 10 year old. I absolutely do not remember being home sick.  From that first summer, and for many following, I would look forward to renewing old friendships and enjoying myself doing all the things that everyone else was doing. My camping stay would be woven into my summer schedule around a surgery to help me walk better. I have revisited Camp Courage several times. Most recently when I was working on my memoir. It has changed with new cabins and updated facilities but what they do is exactly the same as when I was there.

On October 1, 1948 I was diagnosed with poliomyelitis at the young age of seven months old. There was no vaccine to protect me or thousands of other children and adults. The vaccine was not available until 1953. By then my siblings would be protected and thousands of other children and adults.

As we approach Friday, October 23, 2015, World Polio Day it is important to know that there are two countries that still have cases of Polio. When I wrote my book, All the Steps I Have Taken, there were four countries with cases of polio. India was declared polio free in 2012 with no new cases of polio. They celebrated in 2013. Now Nigeria has had no cases in 2015 and they will be able to celebrate Polio Free in 2016. In 2014 there were fewer than 360 cases of Polio in the world. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that Rotary International and Bill and Melinda Gates are still work to End Polio Now. Rotary has been working since 1985 in the Polio plus Campaign and I will be so happy to see that Polio will be eradicated in my life time.

The picture second from the left shows two small boys will braces and crutches. I learned to walk with crutches and braces just like those at the age of two. I have my crutches and show them when I speak to local schools and church.

Pictures of campers

Pictures of campers

So reunion here I come. In Minnesota fall leaves are changing to golden yellow, fire red, and tangerine orange. The prettiest time of the year to take a drive. I will enjoy watching the harvest along the way and I will definitely enjoy seeing people that I may have spent time years ago.

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“Playing the Game of Life”

I love playing games. It can be a board game of “Life” or Monopoly, card game such as 500, Kings in the corner or going to or watching a Minnesota “TWINS” baseball game. I’ll play any game with anyone except Scrabble.  I don’t do Scrabble.

We all have adjustment and situations that we must deal with as we play our game of life. How many of you feel that you were dealt the “Lucky” hand for your game of life? How many of you are still looking for the “Full House” to play your game of Life? My life is no different than anyone else as I was dealt a hand for my game of life. However, with all sorts of adjustments, lots of medical attention and expense early in my life, it has been a successful life and I feel I was dealt a lucky hand. With bushels baskets full of love, much support, many caring hands and a very strong will to be “Normal” when I play my game of “Life” I have found many positive ways to make me the person I am today.

Since I was a child, I have worked extremely hard to be “Normal”. Being normal is being like everyone else.  I wear glasses like lots of other people so I can see better.  I have a stylish hair cut to enhance my appearance and I wear a smile on my face.  These things are the same as many people. You will also notice things that are different from everyone else. I use a cane to help with my mobility, I wear a long leg brace, under my pants, on my left leg to support my leg while walking and I have a distinctive limp to the left, my weaker side. These things make me different. How does one adjust to all these situations?

“Courage” and “Faith” are my strongest assets. When my life changed at the age of 6 1/2 months old, I was not able to understand what was happening to me. Through all the love, support and caring hands and my very strong will to be “Normal” I was able to adjust. The definition of Courage is “it is not the absence of fear”. “It is doing what it will take despite ones fear.” I have spent the last several months speaking to fourth through sixth grade children telling them the importance of treating some else that may be different, NOT differently. The #1 individual that is bullied has a physical limitation.  I am very differently abled and have learned to make my way in this world by doing everything that anyone else can do and do it the best that I can with lots of time and patience. Poliomyelitis, a highly contagious virus, has changed the way I play my “game of Life”. My Grand daughter, Emma (age 13), asks me almost ever time she is around me “Grandma, are you a perfectionist?”  No, but I have learned that doing something right is the right way to do anything.  With lots of Faith, Hope and Trust I make it through every day doing the best I can in whatever I am doing.

Linda at St. Mary's 18 months old

Linda at St. Mary’s 18 months old

Polio is three generations back from today.  You may have a parent who is living with the effects of polio. You may have a grand parent that lived with polio. Some of you reading this may not know what polio is.  Please read past Blogs to find out how a polio survivor can make their way with lots of Courage, and how I have over come a “Challenging dealt hand”.  My book “All the Steps I have Taken” was a dream I had my entire life.  It went live with Inspiring Voices in August 2012. When I retired from a successful career, as a Registered Dental Assistant, I took the time to write my memoir. This little book has lead me to find many polio survivors and we all have handled our dealt hand the same way with persistence and courage. Only with a strong faith could we have done this.  “Truly he is my rock and salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62: 6-8)  Gods blessing to you all.