Welcome to Camp!
Driving up I-75, the reality kicked in, I am going to prison. Minimum security camp, but still prison. How did I get here? How does a person, who grew up afraid of making mistakes, and never got in trouble in school, end up in prison? There are so many things I could blame it on, abandoned by my father at 5, things that happened in my childhood that I never talked about until about a year ago with a psychologist, psychologically, controlling abusive ex-husband, second psychologically abusive husband, the list could go on. I had so many plans, so many wants and desires, but I could never make an of it work for me. No matter how hard I tried, something always blocked the way. I blamed a lot of the “blocking” on God, and am still having a hard time working through that. I was raised to believe that God is the all powerful, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Maker of all Men. That we can do all things through Him, he is the Almighty Father, there to take care of his children, the Shepherd, taking care and protecting his flock. So if he is supposed to be protecting me, where was he? Why was I, the Child, the Sheep, swept to the side? I am determined to answer those questions while I am here.
The girls drove me to camp, and tried to keep the conversation light and fun. Bethany just turned 22 and Gabbi’s almost 20. They have been so supportive through all of this, but these poor kids, dealing with all of this as well as trying to figure out how to be adults.
We arrived at Camp Coleman at 11:30 am. The report letter said to report by noon and do not be late. We arrived to locked doors. We went to the front office and were told to wait in the car until noon. The letter forgot to mention not to be early either. When the guard arrived to process me in, I said good-bye to the girls (and did not cry) and went with him. It was all very simple. We went through my medicines I brought, a female guard came into the clothes closet with me to get my “newbie” uniform, all the way down to some lovely white granny panties (it was all very modestly done), and handed the clothes I came in back to the girls, who were waiting outside for them. She even told them to get along on the ride home for me. Then I had a brief meeting with medical, took a pregnancy test (negative, it better be or I probably would have had a heart attack right there), and they handed me a bag with sheets, blanket, towels and a cotton nightgown. They called for the “inmate in charge” of my new home, Unit F1, and she took me back and showed me around. Everyone was so nice! They went out of their way to collect some snacks for me, loaned me some shorts and a t-shirt until I could purchase my own and even gave me a pair of tennis shoes that someone wasn’t using anymore, so I wouldn’t have to walk around in the little ones they provide.
The cubicles are about 10’x10′, with a 4′ opening for the doorway and the walls are about 5′ tall. No bars, no doors just a nice little home. My bunkmate is very sweet, and told me all of the ins and outs of being here. The surrounding cubicles are all women in their 50’s and they have taken me under their wings and been helpful all the way around. My cubicle is in the very back, the last one in the row. It is nice because at night, we are the furthest from the flushing of the bathroom and the lights in the lobby area. We had two counts after I got there, one at 4pm, one at 10pm. They come in, yell count, everyone stands quietly in their doorway and two guards come through and count everyone. They also do three counts during the night, at midnight, 3am and 5am. They are silent sleeping counts since the front doors are not locked they have to make sure we are all still there. I was told by other inmates, it is a 5 year sentence, in the real prison, to attempt to leave, so no one even tries. Everyone just wants to do their time and go home.
The rest of the week was filled with getting situated, with uniforms, medically and throughout the camp. The food is not bad, could use a little more spices, but I am surviving. The uniforms are olive green men’s work pants, a brown t-shirt, an olive green belt and an olive green button down shirt. We only have to wear them from 7:30am to 4pm and for visits and the rest of the time we can wear the shorts or sweats that can be purchased.
I have survived my first week, and will write about the second week soon.