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It is all true.
I had an opportunity to go to the world’s biggest blind teenage congregation in the world. It was an adventure to say the least. This camp was a blind high student Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camp which also taught leadership and social awareness. It started with a family vacation to Washington D.C.

This part of the trip is my favorite memory. I went to all sorts of exciting places. I went to the Senate and I met our Congressman, Tom Graves. He took us into the House to see representatives to watch them vote on bills. I found my state statue in the Capitol building. A nice intern gave us a tour.

After this wonderful experience, I went into my favorite museum – The Holocaust Museum. I found this especially interesting because I wrote a paper on The Nuremberg Trials in the eighth grade. I went with a bike touring company to see all of the monuments in Washington in one night. My dad and I rode a tandem bike. Washington was a memorable family vacation and I would like to go back.

Then I left Washington and went to Baltimore, Maryland to start my STEM camp. I was scared. I did not want to stay in a college campus for a week by myself without my family. Although I had been away from home for a couple of days at a time at a church retreat, I had never been away for a whole week. I had also never been out of state by myself with strangers I did not know.

As soon as I got to the campus, I knew this would be an experience I would never forget. The campus was Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland. My dad drove us there and we found it pretty easily. The first thing that the administrator told me to do was go put my luggage away. She told me to put it in bin three.

I searched and searched but could not find a bin three. My mom helped me and found the sign on the ground that had fallen off. I put my luggage in bin three and we went into the registration area. In the registration area, there was a lot of screeching going on. The screeching was because this camp was for blind and visually impaired high school youth and all of the participants were either blind or visually impaired. This camp was run by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the NFB prides themselves on blind people doing things for blind people.

Since I am classified as a visually impaired student, I was one of the few that used the vision that they had. Some other students had some vision, but chose not to use. I have always used my vision to the fullest extent. After my experience with the bins, I walked into the dorm room lobby and received the number 32 and was told to get a snack and a bottle of water.

My mom and dad waited with me much to the annoyance of the camp administration. As my number was getting closer to being called, I started to cry. It was a very loud and rough registration. Once my number was called, I went up and received my room key. I went up to my room and met my new roommate Koby and my mentor Kevin Ledford.

My mom and dad helped me unpack and make my bed. My dad helped Koby make his bed too. Kobe is totally blind and had no vision at all. We talked with Kevin for a little while and then it was time for my parents to leave. I was terrified when my parents. I was scared to be alone for week by myself.

Once my parents drove away, I went down to the gym and we had a kickoff celebration. After the kickoff we had a challenge where we had to make the longest marshmallow support system only using a couple of toothpicks and a half bag of marshmallows. We lost, but I started to feel more comfortable in my environment.

The next morning, we went to our first class. For me, it was Space Exploration. I already knew the stuff they were teaching because I already learned it in 5th grade. I made a couple of friends at the camp. Maddy had almost the same vision that I do and Bree, a girl that has the exact same eye issues that I do.

After a couple of hours of being in the space classroom we went to lunch. To get to the cafeteria, we walked across the campus using our canes. I do not like to use my cane, but I did it all week at camp. This was the first time (of many) I got in trouble at camp.

My mentor, Kevin, yelled at me for saying “Thank You” to the cafeteria staff. Kevin said that since you are blind you are not supposed to thank anyone. I told him I had always been taught to thank people. He said, “Boy, you have a lot to learn” and then we sat down to eat our lunch.

Once lunch and class was over, we went a fun activity zone. We were able to play board games with special dots for blind students, a mystery thriller game and karaoke. I forcibly did about half an hour of board games, due to Kevin, but soon was transferred to the mystery-thriller game upon request. His made Kevin mad. After the game was done, we all went to be.

The next day, I ate a bad breakfast, overcooked eggs and undercooked bacon, provided by the food staff at Towsen. After that, we went for five more hours of classes. After that, I was in the lunchroom again. I had just gotten my tray of food and was heading towards my food when Kevin spoke up. “Hey! Why are you not carrying your cane correctly?” I was carrying my cane in my pocket, because mine folds up. The NFB’s cane does not. So I awkwardly got out and unfolded my cane and went over to the table trying not to spill my food in the process. Kevin came over and told me that I as disrespecting the NFB by carrying around an “evil” cane. I ignored him and ate my lunch while thinking oh how much I wanted to be home. Once that was over, I sat through more boring classes and went to sleep. On the third day, Koby and I went downstairs five minutes late and Kevin told us that if we did not come down on time, we would have to pay him $5 dollars every minute we were late. We went a different way to the Space area, in which I got lost and Kevin told me that I have no sense of direction, but I made it there anyways. I sat through more dumb classes and lunch and it was time for a “Whose Line is it anyway” rip-off. All of us were divided into sections, based on where we sat, that was our group. We spent the next two hours we were engaged in games such as: To make everything someone says be offensive.

The way this game worked was to take anything someone said and make it seem offensive. If Koby said “Hi”, I would answer “How dare you use that tone with me!” I did not enjoy this game and was happy when it was over.

After that, we all went to sleep. The fifth day was the last day that Kevin was my mentor. It all started when I woke up. I made sure to be ready extra early so that I would not get charged. I went downstairs with Koby, we did not see Kevin, so we walked out the door after waiting several minutes. We were on the intersection when out of nowhere Kevin came right out of the blue and unleashed a torrent of words at me. He said that I am hopeless, due to the fact that I could not find him and navigate a block on my own. When in reality, I was waiting for the light cycle to change so I knew how to time it. He said that I was living in a dream land where the sky was purple. I responded by saying that the sun is pink and the grass is blue, and that is the way it should be. Kevin was not amused. He told me that I need to go home, I said that is okay. So, he told the head chief of the camp, Natalie, to send me home that following day. Natalie talked to me and I received a new mentor, Israel. Israel is a cool guy, he runs a pizza shop with his parents in New Jersey. He had three other members of his group, Hunter, Andrew and the other one did not show up. I was still in the same room with Koby though, he did not blame me for leaving, in fact, he wanted out of Kevin’s group too. Later that day, Koby started to like this one girl. He texted her, and Kevin looked at their texts and told Koby that he does not want Koby having any kind of relationship. The sixth day, we went to the last of the classes and had a mock field day, There was a rock wall, which I was the first one to reach the top of, a bucking bronco and a trampoline, which I could not go on. The last day of camp was one of the best days of my life. My dad came and picked me up, I was the only one to get picked up, everyone else went on a bus. Once we left, we went to Panera.

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