Last week, I was excited to volunteer once again at a very special camp, Mike Bush’s Fantasy Baseball Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. (Here we are last year.) The camp was started in 1991 for those kids who are not able to play baseball due to their hearing impairment.
Every year, I find it amazing how quickly I bond with the kids I’m grouped with. I played baseball growing up and considered myself a pretty good player, so I was ready with advice on how to get under a pop fly or scoop a grounder or how to stand in the proper stance while batting, but I didn’t need any of that. All I needed to do was show encouragement, to let all of these kids know that they are valued not as a player, but as a person.
I wasn’t able to speak with all of them as I don’t know American Sign Language, but I knew enough to cheer them on, to give them a thumbs up and to basically just smile! So I stuck with that, a simple smile and thumbs up. And that is all they needed, encouragement, involvement, inclusion — the rest takes care of itself. On the field, the kids all worked as hard as they wanted to, those who wanted to push themselves did and those who would rather take a water break, well… they took a water break. But everyone had fun! One of the most rewarding things about the camp is seeing how much love the kids have for each other. Smiles and laughter are everywhere. I originally got involved without know much about the camp. I only heard about it when my company donated water, but I’ve stayed involved because of these kids, because of these smiles.
I would like to thank Office Essentials, for once again generously donating 30 cartons of water, it came in handy given how hot the weather was. This was my 2nd year, my co-worker Andrew’s 3rd (that’s us in the picture below) and I’m not even sure how many years for Office Essentials, but probably close to 10. The most enjoyable part for me is seeing the same group of kids year after year, them remembering who I am and getting to see the joy and smiles from them all.
Here are some of our pictures, and you can also get a good feel for the camp by watching Mike Bush’s own story from KSDK.