I’ve loved camp since I was 10, packing up my big blue trunk with everything a girl needs for two, three, five weeks away from home; kissing my parents goodbye, choosing a bunk bed (top please), swimming in the lake, weaving lanyards, learning dances, riding horses, laying a trail, idolizing counselors, eating in the dining hall, ringing the morning bell, roasting marshmallows, writing letters home, reading by flashlight, performing silly skits, catching lightning bugs, making Best Friends you will remember forever and ever. And then crying all the way home knowing Camp is over, knowing another year will pass before summer will come round again.
Camp is all that and so much more to the kids who come to Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Geogia. It’s a respite from the world for children who face difficulties I can hardly imagine, be it complicated home situations, significant medical challenges, life-threatening illness. It’s where my brave about-to-be-a-college-graduate daughter, Eliza, is spending the summer giving her all to children who need so much–children, she says, who give her way more.
We spent last Saturday there, Tim and I, and Eliza was determined to give us the full Camp experience. First we met her friends, fellow counselors I immediately loved who are changing the world one camper at a time with grand gifts of love and normalcy.
Then we spent two hours on a golf cart traveling the entirety of Camp Twin Lake’s grounds. I was overwhelmed with it all, from the fabulous HGTV-style treehouse (my favorite) to a full working farm to two lakes to a boundless playground to the rock climbing wall to the ropes course to the arts and crafts building to the rimless pool. There is so much to see and do and the most remarkable thing of all is these activities are adapted for people with physical challenges.
I’ll never forget one of the first times Eliza called to tell me about camp. “Some kids may not be able to walk, Mom, but on our Zipline they can fly.” Yes, yes, yes.
We were thrilled to try our hands (legs?) at Paddle Boarding, something that’s been on my life list for a while. It was so much fun!
But the very best part of the day came when we visited Eliza’s cabin. At the last minute she pulled from a plastic tote this letter, which she’d just gotten from a camper the day before.
I’m proud of my daughter, but I was even more touched by the words this child chose as she considered her Camp Twin Lakes experience.
You are important to me.
Isn’t that the most perfect way to begin a letter? Or a conversation? Isn’t it like having the other person look deep in your eyes to say I see you in there, and I mean this just for you. It’s a sentiment I love, and a phrase I vow to use in my own life in the future, just one of the many lessons of my day at Camp Twin Lakes.
You are important to me.
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