Inclusion: We Got It!

They told me Rachel was crying because a friend who had moved away was at camp and she missed her. All was well. They didn’t need me and didn’t really need the room counselor because guess what? They had it. They took care of it.

Camp can bring out the best and the worst in people. I’m happy to say that last week I think it brought out the best in our church youth and leaders.  One evening, several of Rachel’s friends came running up to her room counselor and me and said, “Rachel is having a meltdown!” “What does that mean and where is she?” I questioned. They reported that she was crying, they didn’t know what was wrong, and she was in the dorm. Oksana, Julia, and Gabby are with her. So her most excellent room counselor and I took off for the dorm which was about a 10-minute hike. Along the path, we came upon the first group of girls. They were some of the younger girls. “Rachel is having a meltdown.”  We responded that we knew and we were headed that way. One might have thought this was obvious.

In the next herd of girls, was Julia. She just graduated and was Rachel’s first babysitter in Kansas and a good friend.  “Where is Rachel?”  The response: “We got it. She’s fine. She’s coming.” Room counselor and I look at each other and trudge on.  Next group of girls come around the bend and then two following slowly behind. Oksana was in the lead group and she looks at me and says, “It’s fine. We got it.” More puzzled looks from the room counselor and me.  Then I realized that Rachel was in the slow moving twosome. The other young lady was Gabby who will be a senior. We’ve known her since moving here.  They were walking and chatting.  Gabby nodded at me and gave me the indicator that all was good. Eventually, they told me Rachel was crying because a friend who had moved away was at camp and she missed her.  All was well.  They didn’t need me and didn’t really need the room counselor because guess what?  They had it.  They took care of it.

Rachel loves an audience. The camp belly flop contest provides that. Rachel has an aversion to heights and she can just barely swim out of the deep end, but she wants to do the belly flop contest. With the crowd cheering “Rachel, Rachel,” she managed her first two belly flops and was moved into the finals. The last one, she froze at the gate.  She had been a bit frosty on the first two but even with Oksana waiting for her in the water, she was frozen. Then, a big strong football player from Horn Lake, MS walked over to her. He was at camp that week and met us for the first time. He took her hand and I don’t know what he said, but he helped her as far as he could, let go of her hand and off she went.  They tied for first. You can see it all in this video – fugecampers do the belly flop!

I believe he would say, “Mrs. Mast, we got it.”

The last night of camp is a very emotional time. There are small groups sharing and it is a moving time. Several folks gave me this rendition of something that happened in Rachel’s small group. They were all sharing. One of Rachel’s friends in the group, a young lady who has been friends with Rachel for about four years, started to cry. Rachel comforted her by patting her face, giving her a little hug, and then suddenly she started looking through her bag.  One of the adults said she toyed with asking Rachel to stop because it was distracting, but decided to let it play out. She was glad she did.  Rachel finally found what she was looking for—Kleenex. She pulled them out and wiped the tears from her friend’s face.  Can you picture that?  The adults that told me about it said it was very moving and telling.

That about says it.  Rachel would say, “Mom, I got it.”

To read more about Rachel, visit

– Jawanda Mast

Photo of blog author with her child.I am TheSassySouthernGal, a misplaced Southern gal living in the Midwest. I grew up in rural Arkansas and I have a beautiful “SassyGal in training” named Rachel who happens to have Down syndrome. I love to share stories from my life and our lives. Come along on my journey and we’ll share some stories, some tears and a lot of fun! Soon you will see why I am TheSassySouthernGal!