A Haunting Moment
Up until the last week of the summer, I felt I had been doing a pretty good job. It had been an interesting few months of camp counseling, and the three and four year olds always kept us on our toes. Every week the group of children changed as new families came in for vacation and the old ones left to go back home. Every Monday morning the tears flowed as the parents dropped off their children for day camp, but by Friday, the children and counselors were good friends. They were all very cute, but there was always one that stuck out in the group and touched my heart more than the others. Saying goodbye was very hard sometimes.
The last week of summer camp arrived and most of the other counselors had left for college, leaving us shorthanded. Families still piled into the resort for vacation, so there was not a shortage of children to watch. Normally we only had about eight children in a group with two counselors, but that week we had about 12-14 per group. I did not feel comfortable knowing I had so many little ones under my watch care. Seeing that the other girl that worked with me was new also left me unsure. She had come in to help for that week, but she did not know the routine and all that we did. It was totally upon my shoulders and I prayed it would all be okay.
The first few days were stressful, but we managed to get through it all without a hitch. It was either Wednesday or Thursday of that week when IT happened. We had spent a few hours at the splash pad area of the resort, where the children swam and cooled off from the hot summer sun. The other counselor and I rounded up the children and did a head count before heading in for naptime. I came up short one child. I counted again, but still found myself missing one of the little boys. I told the other gal to take the others inside and I would look around for the missing child. My heart pounded as I raced around the pool area, calling his name. Water was a scary thing, especially with a four year old running around without someone watching him. I had a thought to go to the big pool, where all the adults and big kids went swimming. I studied the faces there, but did not see him. There were lifeguards on either end of the pool so I figured they would see if something was not right.
I went around the pools again, and this time I spotted something that still chills me to the bone. It was him. He lay floating on his back, head still under the water. His beautiful, black skin had become a pale, ghostly white as he stared up into the sky. Someone spotted him at the same moment I did and yelled, "He needs help!" She dove into the water and grabbed him, pulling him up and out of the water. She laid the little boy down on the edge of the pool and I quickly hurried over to his side.
"Oh dear God!"I prayed silently. "Please let him be all right!"
He coughed up some water and sat up. His eyes registered fright and he began screaming. When he saw me he grabbed onto me and would not let go. Crying and sputtering, he hugged me and I comforted him as the paramedics came to look him over.
His parents were called and they rushed over to rescue their son from the "negligent counselors", which is how I still see it today. I felt responsible for this event that should not have happened. It was a shame that my summer had to end that way.
As it turned out, it seemed that the little boy had suffered a seizure, something the parents said he had never had before, so they could not understand why it happened now. I never saw him again. They did not return him to camp, but I do not blame them for their decision. I doubt I would have left my child alone with strangers again after an incident like that.
I often wonder why those lifeguards did not think it strange to see him swimming around all alone. When they were questioned about it, all one said was they had seen him going under and coming up without any problems. He had been doing fine. It must have occurred just a few seconds before I saw him, but long enough to get some water into his lungs. That pale face under the water still haunts me to this day...
I finished up my last few days, but I never did another summer of camp counseling again. I felt horrible at what happened and did not think I could handle something like that again. Yet, in this unsure world, I am so glad to know I have a Lifeguard Who will never take His eyes off of me. I am so glad to know He will never fail in anything He does, even though I fail miserably in so many ways. Thank You, Lord, for loving me and promising that You will never leave me alone.
May He watch over you this week, and may you all be blessed!
7/2/2012 03:07:41 am
Thanks for sharing that. It is every child care workers worst fear! Please know it is not your fault! It could happen to anyone! Thank goodness we can turn to God for forgiveness and He is faithful to remove the guilt from our hearts!
7/2/2012 03:50:04 am
Speaking as a mom with a 4 year old that has epilepsy, it sounds like although the boy slipped through the head count, it is something any 4 year old would do at some time or another. Seizures are scary things for anyone, at any time, water or no, God had his hand on you that day, and don't forget that he had his hand in the whole situation, not just saving the boy, but the timing of everything. This might have made his parents aware of a condition they could have easily missed for years. I thank God that there are camp counselors who love the children so much, like you!
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