Camp Munroe verdict: 'I love having fun'

“Tommy is an awesome camper! He is a very good role model and friend to his fellow campers.”

I’m sitting at my desk writing.

My son is sitting at my desk, drawing and answering questions from my co-workers.

It’s Friday afternoon, and because of a child-care scheduling snafu, I’ve picked Tommy up from his last day at the Munroe-Meyer Institute’s Camp Munroe and brought him back to the office.

How was camp?

“It was good.”

What did you do?

“I don’t know, but it was good.”

Eventually, through skillful questioning by my supervisor Karen (a former newspaper reporter with an apparent flair for handling reluctant sources), Tom admits that he played outside in the water park, that the water was cold, and that he had fun.

For Tom, this is a major conversation.

Tom returns to summer school this week, the last act in what has been a very busy summer for him. He spent the first three weeks in summer school at Wake Robin Elementary in Bellevue, then completed two weeks (sandwiched around a week off) at Camp Munroe. Now, he’ll begin two weeks in Bellevue Public School’s Jump Start program before the actual school year begins.

He’s the hardest working person in the house.

But boy, did he love his first experience at day camp. In his two weeks at Camp Munroe, Tom would consistently come home, eat dinner and put himself to bed in the early evening in varying states of exhaustion.

“I love having fun,” he told his mother on one ride home from the camp.

Did he make any friends? “Yes,” he said. “The boy Josh.”

We assume he means camp volunteer Joshua Price, one of the “buddies” who supervised his play and activities. He also said he had a lot of fun with Sam, a “big boy.”

His ability to identify both boys by name was a pleasant surprise — it often takes Tom longer than one week to remember a person’s name.

Notes home from the camp directors and counselors were real day brighteners for my wife and I:

“Tommy had a great day! Tommy is an awesome camper! He is a very good role model and friend to his fellow campers.”

My son has never been called a role model before.

Now, he’s sitting quietly, drawing a picture of a plane, guzzling Mountain Dew, as I stare at my computer screen and wonder what he and I have taken away from the camp experience.

He didn’t leave with a new best friend, but maybe I wanted that for him more than he did. According to the counselors, he played very well with his fellow campers and had a great time.

He certainly has been more vocal lately, perhaps due to the confidence he gained at being not only “just one of the crowd” at Camp Munroe, but, according to counselors, something of a group leader. During a visit to Fort Atkinson over the Fourth of July weekend, he quizzed a re-enactor about his uniform, sword and gun in a lengthy conversation in which he stayed on topic throughout.

He has discovered the summer joys of the garden hose, probably a result of the outdoor “water park” at the camp. Saturday, he spent an hour spraying water all over the back yard – including all over the dog.

And he has shown increased confidence.

It’s not a major breakthrough. But it is another in a series of small steps forward – increasing self-confidence, increasing willingness to socially interact, an increasing ability to be part of a group.

Speaking of being part of the group: On his last week at camp, Tom asked my wife to get him a Camp Munroe shirt.

He wears it all the time.

It’s his camp, after all.

Where he’s awesome, loves having fun and is a good role model and friend.

A Day in the Life . . . Kicking back at McGoogan

UNMC librarian Dawn Wilson checks out the McGoogan Library of Medicine’s latest addition to its collection . . . of chairs.

If you’re going to ask for a feature story on reclining chairs, the best time to do it would probably be a slow day during a slow week – the kind of “just before the holiday” Tuesday during which a reporter might think, “I wouldn’t mind sitting in a recliner for a couple of minutes.”

So that’s when Marie Reidelbach, interim director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine – demonstrating her news savvy – sent me her e-mail. The library has just upgraded its recliner stock, adding 10 brand-new leather/vinyl models from Nebraska Furniture Mart. How about some coverage?

Now, that’s not exactly 10 new copies of “Gray’s Anatomy.” But, as Reidelbach assured me, those recliners will see plenty of action.

Group study sessions. Quiet reading time.

And naps. Lots of naps.

“It’s not at all unusual to see residents or clinicians asleep in the recliners,” Reidelbach said.

In fact, librarian Teri Hartman makes the recliners a regular stop when she’s chaperoning a tour of high school or middle school students.

“I always ask them, ‘Why do you think we have recliners?’” she said.

The students usually say something about the library wanting them to be comfortable. Which is technically true, but not the answer Hartman is looking for.

“I say, ‘What do you think your day is going to be like when you’re a student or resident here?’” she said. “’You’ll see a patient at 4 a.m., have a presentation at 10 a.m., then have an exam at 2 p.m.’”

An area on the seventh floor, featuring recliners and a couch, has become such a popular napping site that the librarians refer to it as “the lounge” and used to stock it with newspapers and magazines — so the med students could fall asleep over People magazine instead of textbooks.

“We want this place to be like their living room,” Hartman said. Because, she adds, they don’t get to go home very much.

In fact, when the library was first renovated 15 years ago, “more comfortable seating” vied with “better lighting” for the improvement most students and faculty members wanted to see, Reidelbach said. It’s not hard to understand – a picture of the University Hospital’s library reading room circa 1927 shows a selection of wooden office chairs that must have been hard to comfortably sit in, let alone steal a catnap.

The reading room at University Hospital in 1927.

That won’t be a problem with the new recliners. Still, the napping that goes on is infrequent and in small portions.

“The library is a pretty lively place, and one probably could only count on 10 to 15 minutes to really get some down-time, but that might be just enough,” Hartman said. “We are just glad to offer our students and residents the ability to rest and recover — even a little bit — before they head back into the fast-paced world of learning about health care and caring for UNMC and The Nebraska Medical Center patients.”

And if someone starts snoring?

“Up to now,” Hartman said, “that has never been an issue.”

Incoming UNMC student Maurice Chessmore checks out the library — and checks his phone while kicking back in a comfortable recliner.