By Jenna Russell Globe Staff, August 10, 2019
UNION, Conn. — The little girl stands in a clearing in the woods, her chin tucked to her chest, her gaze cast down on the sun-dappled forest floor. Beside her, her camp counselor leans close to see her face, searching for the words to ease the child’s fear.
The girl is named Nevaeh, heaven spelled backwards. This is her third day at summer camp. Here on the ropes course this flawless July morning, she watches as one by one, the other four campers in her group all brave the “swing shot.” Each is pulled high into the trees by a line clipped to her back, then soars forward in a wide arc across the clearing. Now her turn has come, and Nevaeh is paralyzed, unable to move or even meet her counselor’s eyes.
“It’s up to you,” Kelsey Pandiani tells the 10-year-old, her voice calm and gentle, as birds chirp in the pines above their heads. “It’s whatever you want to do.”