Monday, June 26, 2006

Our most difficult camper

Let me introduce you to TJ. TJ was 15 years old, about 5'9" tall and 180 lbs. I'm not 100% clear on what his diagnosis is but he was probably autistic, with some bi-polar or schizophrenic tendencies. The first thing I noticed about TJ was that he wore gloves. After I got to know him a little bit better, I understood why. He loves to break stuff and hit stuff and his hands were really torn up.

The first day he got into two physical fights with Danny from St. Louis that were quickly broken up. Him and Danny just did not like each other at all.

TJ was just always angry. He would go around telling everyone "I'm going to f'ing kill you!" On Tuesday he went on a rampage throwing rocks at us. The biggest ones were probably softball sized. We would set up a perimeter around him as directed by the staff and try to direct him into an isolated area when he would start acting out in this way. We could not physically restrain him ourselves unless there was a direct threat to other campers. We had arts and crafts on this morning and he snapped at the end of the class. We were told to leave immediately and some of the camp staff stayed in the room while he rearranged it. Maybe rearrange is the wrong word here. He destroyed it. Knocking stuff off of the shelves, tipping over tables, throwing chairs. He was physically restrained and injured one of the staff in the process by a punch to the nose. He was taken up to the office and calmed down by then.

That evening he went into another rampage throwing rocks where he busted out a window in the staff bathrooms.

The next day, Wednesday, he started again and busted out all of the windows in the staff bathroom then headed down to the trail to the mess hall. He had to be physically restrained here by 4 people and head butted one of the staff members in the cheek bone area. A nurse then came down and gave him a sedative by injection and he was taken up to the nurses station and put in a room. After he woke up in less than an hour he tried to rearrange that room and several people held him down and prayed over him. He just spewed curses at us and kept saying "STOP!" He was given another sedative by injection. After the first injection the camp had called his dad who was on the way to camp to pick him up. He woke up again about an hour after the second injection. The nurses were amazed. They said they had given him the maximum dose they were allowed to give him and could not believe that he was awake again.

The dad finally came to pick TJ up and off they went. Later we learned that his medication had been changed just before he came to camp which was probably not a good idea, but I'm not a doctor, nor do I know the circumstances on why they changed his meds.

One thing that stood out to me was that after each and every violent episode that TJ had, he would break down and cry and go around apologizing to everyone for his outburst.

Father, I ask that you would give TJ peace right now. I pray that whatever is tormenting this young boy would leave him alone. Please pray for TJ. I have a gut feeling that there is much more going on here than we know.


Anonymous Mom said...

After reading about T.J. my heart
is so concerned for the grandmother
who is his and his sister's caretaker. Do they live with her and how does she cope with it?

6:58 PM  
Blogger Keith said...


TJ lives with his mom and dad. It is Danny and his little sister that live with their grandmother. I met her when she came to pick them up. But We really did not speak with her at length. we just prayed with and for them before they left. She did say that she has several behavioural specialists that come to the house to work with them regularly. That is about all I know.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Sorry for the mix-up in names.
I hope the grandmother has a good
support group. She certainly has
a difficult challenge. It was very
interesting to hear of the different personalities of your
campers.....quite a spectrum. The
boy you remembered from FBC Lakehills is Ronnie Rathbun.

1:09 PM  

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