Finding a Place

Searching for his Place
The first time Goro joined Mirai no Mori’s Summer Camp, he was an energetic third grader; someone who would get a fractured bone or a light burn once a year. “I want to make new friends. Nobody wants to be my friend”, he said. And, even if he managed to find someone to play with, it didn’t last for a long period of time. If something caught his eye, he would rush towards it without any concern for his safety. As a result, we had no choice but to limit the length of time he spent outdoors. The reason we decided to let him join Mirai no Mori’s summer camp was because we wanted to give him the chance to run around freely in nature.

Meeting Mirai no Mori
On the first day of the summer camp, Goro began throwing a tantrum when we were heading to the station because his bags were too heavy. He could not stay still for the 2.5 hours that we were on the train and kept exploring. After we arrived at the campsite, Goro ignored the Mirai no Mori staff whenever they called the campers to gather and kept running around all over the place. We even lost sight of him a few times. He was running around freely. Jeff, a senior member of the camp staff, noticed this right away and approached us during the first meeting. “How do you want us to handle Goro? We want him to have fun, but we also have to make sure that this is a safe place for him,” he said. It became an important chance for us to work with Mirai no Mori and figure out how we could all help Goro enjoy the camp to the fullest. “What can we do? We want to help you,” we said. Eventually, Goro understood Jeff and we noticed slight changes in his attitude.

Progress and the Future
When requested to gather around, Goro began responding, albeit slowly, and he started sitting at the very front when the staff were giving instructions. He also joined his team and did his best to do what Mirai no Mori staff expected of him, such as staying within sight and raising his hand when he had something to say. After the camp, Goro took part in Mirai no Mori’s weekend programs because we wanted him to continue the “Camp Magic” experience. By the second year, he started to respond to the “gather” call, seven out of ten times. People around him have also noticed this change and praised his growth. “Goro, you’re so gentle now,” they say. “You still have a strong sense of who you are, but you’re able to consider other people as well.” He is happy in school because he has found friends to play with him. We feel like his rough edges have been polished off and the warmth that was slowly growing in his heart is becoming visible. We look forward to his bright future as he continues to grow in the warm and welcoming environment provided by Mirai no Mori.