We were that family at Philmont Scout Camp. You know the one with the kid throwing a tantrum at every turn. The one every one feels sorry for because the mom looks frazzled with too many kids. The one whose dirty kid is wandering around unsupervised. We were that family.
Our son, Locke, was beside himself most of the week. He had meltdowns in the food hall, assembly hall, and amphitheater. I think it was a combination of the heat, 20 hour car ride, sleeping in a tent, and being off schedule. Plus he wanted to be anywhere but where I wanted him to be.
At first I was a little embarrassed and felt sorry for myself, but then I was mostly humbled by the kindness and empathy of strangers. It seemed like every where I went (but especially the bathroom), members of the camp would say to me, “How is your little son doing?” “Are you doing okay?” “How are you holding up?” “What do you need?” So many people that I had never met before showed concern:
These cute ladies gave me their tent numbers and offered to come help me out in the morning to get the kids ready or just hold Locke and walk around with him. They checked in with me every day to make sure we were okay.
This sweet man came up to me in the cafeteria after Chad had just left with Locke (who had just thrown a major tantrum) and said, “How can I help you?” I told him he could help me clear my table. As I gathered the other kids, he cleared our plates.
We were getting ice cream up the road away from camp, and this nice couple recognized us (we were (in)famous). They stopped us and asked us about Locke. They just wanted to tell us that we were great parents and how impressed they were with our patience.
Everyone became Locke’s family. They kept him safe and entertained.
Many a time he preferred perfect strangers over his parents.
I didn’t get pictures of everyone that helped me, (mainly because it is awkward to ask strangers if you can take their picture in a bathroom), but all the kind gestures were noted. It truly took a village to make it through the week. Locke’s behavior was frustrating, but it opened up the door to meet so many wonderful people. I was touched by the kindness of strangers and grateful to have spent the week with such a helpful, concerned, non-judgmental group. They were wonderful examples to me. I left with a stronger desire to judge less and help more and to show empathy and compassion for all.