When I was a child, I desperately wanted to go camping. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t keen outdoors people. This was because Dad was a drunk and Mom was a nag. Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind allowed only the older children to experience nature for themselves. That was why I felt so glum in 1968 when my dorm mates went camping but I had to remain behind. From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is why I missed that wonderful experience but discovered something that I liked just as well.
“You won’t be coming with us when we go camping tomorrow,” Mr. Moiarty informed me. “Since you have a sore leg, you’ll have to stay at the infirmary this weekend.” I felt devastated. No one had ever taken me camping. I dearly wanted to experience all the activities I had only heard of. Now, because the leg could become infected, I must miss the trip.
“Why can’t I stay in the dorm?” I demanded.
“There’s nobody to supervise you. The nurses can do that while we’re gone,” he explained.
I lay in bed that Friday night and cursed my misfortune. The rest of the boys would be away from Jericho, having adventures in the woods, while I must stay in the hospital. I dreaded hearing all their camping stories on Sunday evening while all I could say was that I spent the weekend in the infirmary.
However, I discovered the silver lining in my enforced hospitalization the next morning. The television in the ward had cable. The variety of cartoons which I saw on that Saturday morning astonished me. What a thrilling change from only seeing Vancouver’s two stations and Victoria’s channel drifting in faintly.
The other boys did tell me their adventures on Sunday evening but I felt I had an equally enjoyable weekend. I was the only child in the entire ward and the nurses were kind. Best of all, no one bullied me.
Deliverance from Jericho
contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. This 196-page paperback, containing 6 black and white photos, sells for $20.00 through the PayPal-equipped http://www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison website. I did go camping the next year and I wrote about that experience on my http://www.bruceatchison.blogspot.com blog.