Category Archives: camp

Touched by a stranger

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These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. The world’s been spinning on it’s axis at regular speed but it’s felt like warped speed to me. Since the start of July – we haven’t stopped. East coast road trips, New York visits and returning to San Diego with immediate guests, the invasion of Comic-Con and more guests on the way – needless to say it’s been a bit busy. But busy doesn’t prevent perspective nor impede wisdom from those you truly wish to ‘see’.

Sunset LBNY

At the same time of the first world ‘busy’ and joyful choice of travel and visiting with loved ones, news of another kind entered our world. The teacher of one of my wisest yoga instructors passed away suddenly, shaking an international community to its core. This man of wisdom, talent and grace who has touched my life through writings, meditation apps and Sarah’s teachings – this man who helped so many thousands find their own way, himself struggled with mental illness. Michael Stone shared his knowledge of psychotherapy, yoga and Buddhism and fostered a world-wide community of followers he met and ones he never will. All of a sudden, the world seemed quieter.

“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world” -Dr. Seuss

Loss is difficult on all levels. Trying to explain how someone you never met impacted your life often seems to fall on a spectrum of ‘how can you be sad’ or ‘you never even knew him’. Unfortunately, I am like millions of others who have dealt with loss of loved ones and those close to them and although losing this ‘stranger’ is on a completely different plane, it’s not any less real. Loss hurts. Sadness happens. Hearts break for loved ones going through massive, tragic changes and for those around them who want to do something yet know there’s nothing that can make this moment hurt any less. The pain is palpable.

sunset San Diego

And then there was Ari. The courageous, witty, brave, spunky, vivacious warrior I never met who put a smile on my face whenever his name crossed my screen. This child of a university friend touched the lives of thousands across the globe. His arrival into the world wasn’t easy, was fraught with danger and life through him curve balls even before he was smacking them out of the park as one of the biggest baseball fans around. He was the pinnacle of a fighter. Somehow, this kid whose heart needed replacing actually had a spirit that was larger than all of ours combined. This tough as nails Red Sox fan filled with courage, wit, wisdom, grace and fierce love for his family and teams – this little stranger changed lives. His and his family’s struggle with waiting for a heart for over 200 days (spending 180+ in the hospital), losing their house to mold and having insurance give them NOTHING for it, finally getting a new heart (while fully acknowledging the loss and gift of the family who would help theirs) and the thrill of going home was shared the world over. He met some of his biggest idols, played in the yard, hugged his siblings, went to the golf course with dad and loved his family fiercely – and after stealing hearts around the globe, he took a turn for the worse and in the words of his parents’ social media posting ‘passed away peacefully…listening to the Red Sox’.

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” – Piglet

This tiny person who I never met reminded me of that elusive perspective, growth, journey and struggle. From stories of his parents, friends and those who loved him, the world knew he dreamed big, loved fiercely and had the courage of the bravest warriors. In his short time, he made a huge impact. His optimism, fighting spirit, zest for life and calm demeanor reminds us all of the important things in life. His struggles were real from the get go but they didn’t stop him nor his parents from helping him to live his best life, shine with the brightest of lights, share his whole heart and soul and find tenacity of strength when much seemed lost.

Thankful

I’ve been on a journey of searching for perspective for quite some time. Call it growth, seeking or whatever you will, but I’ve found myself interacting with people, writings and things I never would have before – the universe seems to be doing her thing and smacking me in the face with whatever she feels necessary. I’ve always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, even if the reason is one we never know.

“We touch other people’s lives simply by existing” – JK Rowling

This weekend, San Diego swelled with passionate people doing their Comic-Con thing and being present in the moment. This last month I got the opportunity to hang with close friends, see new things and hug family. Yet these two individuals (whose constant struggle never seemed to divert their spirit), these two individuals I never got the pleasure of meeting, tugged at my heart in ways I never expected. Seeking never gets old. Trying to be the you you’d like to be today is a journey that has twists, turns, stops, starts, crashes, weaving winding madness and always seems to change direction. I am devastated for the families and close circles of these two lives cut short. Since learning of their stories, they have been on my mind (and the minds of many) constantly. Michael and Ari have taught me lessons filled with grit, heart and wisdom. If only for a short time, I couldn’t be happier to have ‘known’ them.

Heart Mission Beach

Tears have flowed around the world and although I know the world will continue to spin on it’s axis, for awhile, it feels like that axis is off kilter and won’t be the same again. It’s painful to realize that nothing’s guaranteed; but, we can do our best to be present, be awake and seek that silver lining. Young and old we can all make a difference. These strangers have taught me lessons of which I will keep always. Their presence is felt and their lessons and love live on in all they’ve touched. We may not be family, we may not have ever met, but I will never forget them.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same” – Flavia Weedin

Lessons from significant strangers

Cheer for your teams with immense passion

Love fiercely

Have courage of the bravest warriors

Keep the faith

Cherish family and friends

Spread positivity

Smile wide

Practice kindness

Help others

Laugh often

Remember to be a kid

Any opportunity you get to play – take it!

Share your story

Ask for help

Try to keep a calm demeanor

Treat people equally

Be flexible

Listen closely

Be present

Look towards the future

Live in the moment

Share your sparkle

Dream big

Be the light

The public social media pages of each of these special people have further information on how to help. If you choose – send words of love, monetary donations or acts of kindness. The little boy with the giant spirit was helped by the most generous gift of organ donation – if it’s a way you’d like to help someone else – please do so. Above all, remember their lessons, perspective, choice, attitude and light – you can never know someone else’s battles, but you can always, always be kind.

Thank you for the lessons. I will remember you – always.

 

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Hugs and a serotonin shift

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The world has been shrinking due to the fabulous power of things like travel and the Internet. It seems only yesterday when snail mail was the focus and cell phones were things you saved for emergencies. Today snail mail is held for IRS notifications and the once in a blue moon actual birthday card and most of life’s communications are made from the tiny computers in the palm of our hands. If you’ve ever been to Disneyworld® and watched the Carousel of Progress go from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder to that of George Jetson, it’s easy to understand how nutty it is that I can tap a button while at the beach in San Diego, California and can video conference with my godson while he’s on the rugby field in Hong Kong. While technology broadens our global relationships, there’s still a feeling of separate in a world of connection. Read the rest of this entry

Forty at 40

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I turned 40 almost a full year ago (363 days to be exact). It was scary. It has been a big year. Forty – whoa! I remember when I turned eighteen my freshman year at university…that was scary. Then there was twenty…I cried for days to no longer be a ‘teenager’. Days, months and years passed and as each milestone felt a little lighter, I think I got a little braver. All of those milestones hold societal and familial weight. The ‘shoulds’ and ‘supposed tos’ are sometimes louder than you’d like them to be and its a struggle to silence them…I’m hoping I’ve gotten better at it. (It’s still a work in progress) Read the rest of this entry

“There’s nothing like a good moose”

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Trail sign at Big Bear Lake

Do you like roadtrips? What kind are your favourite? More and more, I realize how much I like them, so a few weekends ago, we took another one. Just under three hours from San Diego sits Big Bear Lake. Not being a skier, someone who enjoys winter or an enclosed water fan, I’d never been – so we felt it was time. Snacks, hiking shoes and sunscreen packed and we were on our way! Read the rest of this entry

The magic of camp and travel

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I’ve been a camper for as long as I can remember. I started at day camp while still in single digits and then made my way to sleep away. I was a counselor, lifeguard, and Aquatics Director. I learned to swim, write calligraphy, get dressed in the dark, create silk screens and not to be afraid of spiders – all at camp. I made some of my best friends, have some of my fondest memories and still look forward to when the blue ices turn my tongue that iridescent shade of turquoise – all from camp. It’s that time of year again.

My social media feeds are flooded with photos of all things camp. The children of friends are spending their first summers at sleep away. Some little ones are headed to a day camp they love and many of my friends spend their summers (and some, their winters) working at camp. I’m in contact with former campers and counselors now living life to the fullest. I contribute articles to the American Camping Association’s publications. I still write the newsletters for the day camp at which I spent over a decade as Aquatics Director. I LOVE CAMP! Read the rest of this entry

Did you ever want to ride in an RV?

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In December, we drove across the country in our Honda CRV. On our travels, we shared the country’s highways with cars, trucks, motorcyclists, RVs and everything in between. I don’t think I’d ever seen as many different types of motor homes, caravans or campers as I did in those four weeks. We saw the most in the parks in southern Utah and each time we passed one, I longed to see the inside. Would it ever be possible? Is this a pipe dream or something we’d want to consider one day? I don’t know, but I was curious!

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Summer Home

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“Norm”!!! This raucous greeting was given to the character played by George Wendt as he entered the Cheers bar season after season. Day after day, year after year Norm returned to his ‘home’, as he sat atop the same bar stool joining his mates in interesting encounters and endless conversation. I imagine Norm would feel strange if he walked in years later and no one knew his name-but if his peers returned to the same place at the very same time-it would be just another day at Cheers!

Jon Bon Jovi sings “who says you can’t go home- there’s only one place they called me one of their own” and my friends and I are among those who count ourselves lucky that we too, share such a special place. Although not Bon Jovi’s New Jersey, ours is a little spot on the east end of Long Island known to us as, camp (Dorothy P. Flint 4H Camp). To those who have ever experienced the wonder that is sleep-a-way camp, you know the feeling. The place itself holds so many memories and stories of your youth that if those cabins could talk they would divulge the most trusted secrets.

If those walls could talk...Cabin 13 (Edranel-Girl's Camp)

If those walls could talk…Cabin 13 (Edranel-Girl’s Camp)

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Fifty Things I Learned From Sleep Away Camp

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Fifty Things I Learned From Sleep Away Camp

  • Dirt is good for you
  • Camp matters
  • Australian accents are my favourite
  • Maryann (the cook) made the best crumb cake
  • Childhood friendships last
  • Talent should be embraced
  • Warm fuzzies are real
  • Counselors make a difference
  • The smell of the Long Island Sound is special to me
  • Leadership, trust, faith, courage, determination, fairness, creativity & individuality
  • Show concern for others
  • Embrace differences
  • Always share your stuff Read the rest of this entry

Sleep-Away Camp’s Greatest Gift

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It’s the makings of countless best selling fiction novels; four friends from childhood who maintain their relationships through adulthood.  Without sounding contrite, my story is real. No fictional characters, no made up locations-just four girls who met before their teens and journeyed through life with the help of summer camp memories and experiences.  Last night those same four friends gathered together to share an evening. Four thirty-eight year old women who have been friends for more than half of our lives went to one of our childhood homes and were reminded once again of the meaning of friendship.

It was at Dorothy P. Flint 4H Camp on the Long Island Sound in Riverhead, NY that we all first met. An only child from West Hempstead, a Massapequa girl whose sister had introduced her to camp, a Jewish girl from Plainview trying out sleep-away for the first time and the daughter of the camp manager (from Hicksville) who after being born at the hospital down the road in the summer of ’74 had spent her life’s summers at camp. It was there that we learned about ourselves. It was there that we experienced so many ‘firsts’. And it was there, at camp, in countless cabins every summer that our friendship began and flourished.

For some Long Island children the last week of June meant the beginning of days at the local pool or playing games on their front lawn with the neighborhood kids. For us it was different. As school came to a close we looked forward to eight weeks together in wooden cabins with no electricity and no bathrooms in the bunks. We dreamt of bunk beds, giggle fests, council fires, friendship circles, co-eds, cabin nights, the 209 steps down to the rocky and sea-glass filled beach with the pungent smell of the sea and so many other exciting events. That last Sunday in June saw us all head in busses or cars past the end of the Long Island Expressway, through a round-a-bout and up to the entrance of camp off of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. Once inside the entrance gates, past the larger than life rocks with 4H Camp painted on them and up to the office we found counselors from around the world who greeted us with open arms and ever-present smiles. We weren’t just at camp-we were home.

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