Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finding a Tribe

Today my daughter is enjoying a Girl Scouts Camporee. It’s a weekend trip to a camp nearby with cabins and it’s with other troops in our area. This is her 3rd Camporee.

It's the first Camporee with her new troop. Her tribe, you might say. 

Her experience with the old troop wasn’t horrific. It also wasn’t what you want Girl Scouts to be for your child. The pace moved too fast for her, she often felt left out, there were girls who were mean to her and there was too much pushing for independence on things she wasn’t capable of doing without help, thereby making her just feel bad about herself.

So last year she made the decision to change troops and return to a troop she’d been a part of when she was a Daisy Girl Scout at her special needs school when she was five. Many of the same girls are in the troop still and it was an easy decision. It became clear after a “test run” sleepover with the troop last May.

When I picked her up from the sleepover she said, “I have more friends in this troop than I do in my whole school!” 

That is a beautiful thing and a sad thing at the same time.

We've been talking about her differences (I wrote about it on Hopeful Parents last month and my blog before that) a lot and we're still working through a lot, but recently we saw some progress towards acceptance. Acceptance of herself.

A friend recently asked her if it was time to order Girl Scout cookies as they had the previous 2 years while in her other troop. Surprisingly she said, “No, my new troop doesn’t do that because our troop has a lot of girls with disabilities and it is too hard for us.” 

She didn't say it with sadness or embarrassment. She was saying it as a matter of fact. That day, she embraced a little bit of herself with that statement and she staked claim to her tribe.


I blog at Kidneys and Eyes, and co-founded a social network for special needs families at Support for Special Needs