laughter


I was recently asked to describe in one word a place that has been a big part of my life for more than 30 years. I didn’t have to think too hard before answering, “Friends.” But now that I’ve had more time to think, I realize there are so many excellent words to describe Camp Tockwogh. I know—it may sound silly to have such a connection to a summer camp but I’m guessing you are thinking about your own camping experience as a kid and saying, yeah, I remember how fun that was.

Last weekend I attended a 75th anniversary alumni weekend at Camp Tockwogh. It’s a beautiful 309-acre YMCA camp on the Northeastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I saw some old friends, counselors, and campers I haven’t seen in awhile. The age differences between some of us may have meant a lot back in the day, but the wrinkles and grey hair were spread pretty evenly among most of the group of alumni staff at the reunion.

One of our group members is a professional cameraman and brought his equipment to film our stories. It  got pretty emotional for many of us—tears from good memories and thoughts of friends who aren’t with us anymore flowed as much as the laughter. It got me to thinking…

Tockwogh is quite a magical place. It’s beautiful and the activities are fun, but there’s more to it than the physical space. There is a special bond formed between the people who have experienced camp. Regardless of when you worked there or even if you went there as a camper, you can count on being part of a wonderful, talented, kind and fun group of people for the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen your friends for days, months, or many years, you pick up right where you left off.  You see, the songs may change, new buildings go up, new boats replace the old, activities change, and new staff come on board, but the essence of camp remains.

Everyone who goes to camp, young or old, can expect to find acceptance, kindness, encouragement, and support from the people there. And they can build new skills, grow their self esteem, and make life-long friends like mine.

There are a few things I think camp could improve—the beds are a bit hard on my back and the food is okay but I miss the old chicken slop and grilled cheese the way Rosalie made it—but here are a few things I’m glad have lasted and are perfect the way they are:

  • My first roommate Wendy. When I was a Junior Counselor I asked my village chief if I could live with Wendy for the summer because she was so fun and easy going. I am blessed to have Wendy as one of my best friends because every single time I see her she never fails to make me laugh. There’s a lot of other stuff too…
  • My first boss (my village chief), Amy, is also still one of my BFFs. With all due respect to his holiness, Amy is more popular than the Pope and looks better in a dress. I am amazed at her unlimited energy and glad she’s a fighter so we can have her around for many, many more years.
  • My first (one of) counselor, Kathy. Kathy has become one of my best friends and we still laugh at the fact that I was her camper and we used to sing Michael Jackson songs loud and without embarrassment. Kathy knows everyone in Delaware and if she ran for governor today, would win in a landslide.
  • All the other wonderful women I have become close with—some were adopted into the clan and others had my back when I needed to relieve myself in a cornfield—are amazing in their own rights. I am blessed to call them my friends and my sisters.
  • As for the men, sometimes I call them my boys but they are true men. I have always had a tiny crush on each one of them and have also considered them my brothers. These men were exceptional role models for the kids they guided, taught, played with, and protected. I saw them in roles of big brothers and dads before they were mature enough to think that way, and always knew they would be great fathers one day. Some days they teased me and brought me to tears but most days they protected and supported me, accepted me as their friend, and helped me become a better woman. I will always love them and each time they found love, became a parent, accomplished a milestone, or were rewarded for something great, I was overjoyed.

One word? I don’t think so. Here are some other descriptors I heard friends say in their interviews:

Family
Friendship
Love
Priceless

Tockwogh.

Before I leave you with this  poem that one of our alumni read at the campfire to honor our lost friends, I want to say that I’m going to write a book and include the stories I heard this weekend. Some of what was overheard included,

  • “And his hand was in a cast after he punched the horse the second time.”
  • “I had to think for a second, what do you wear to a fire?”

Oh yea, best seller for sure.

“So many things have happened
Since they were called away.
So many things to share with them
Had they been left to stay.
And now on this reunion day,
Memories do come our way.
Though absent, they are ever near,
Still missed, remembered, always dear.”
—Author unknown

This is a song that one of our alumni sang at the campfire. It was a beautiful honor to our friends.

And on to the evidence! Beautiful people, wonderful friends…

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On June 8, 2013 two of my favorite people in the entire world celebrate a rare and wonderful  milestone. My parents, Greg and Carol have been married for 50 years!

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These two people have blessed me with a fun, exciting, and loving upbringing. To this day, they still help me with the basics of growing up. They share their wisdom, patience, love, and kindness with me and the rest of our extended family as well as a plethora of friends around the globe. They deserve much happiness and love from all of us.

So what does it take to be married to someone for 50 years? Who knows. I’m not sure there is a formula—except the basics like love, trust, generosity, kindness, laughter, joy, forgiveness. You know what that sounds like to me? The fruit of the Spirit. These two souls have God’s Spirit working in them and through them and it shows.

My dad and my mom probably have some other words of wisdom on how they’ve stayed together for so long. Maybe some selective hearing, some earplugs, some giving up of the remote control and so forth. All I know is that I love them and I am so glad they are taking care of each other.

Congratulations mom and dad!!

Below are some photos from their wedding. I can see some of my cousins in there plus and aunt and uncle and some grandparents. The wedding photographer was a friend  who took some shots for them and the getaway hot rod mobile is there—the thing that made dad look “cool” back then, I’m sure.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

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Mom with grandpa Crowe

Mom with grandpa Crowe

The Wedding Party.

The Wedding Party.

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

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The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

With Grandma Andrews.

With Grandma Andrews.

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The hot ride!

The hot ride!

Mom and grandpa Crowe

Mom and grandpa Crowe

I’ve been hearing conversations lately about the importance of context. Often conflict arises because of false assumptions, many of which are made because of a lack of knowledge about the context that surrounded a conversation. My pastor just came back from Isreal talking about how being immersed in the culture of the holy land changed his perspective of scripture in a huge way.

So then I was asked (for a contest) to name my favorite hymn/christian song. I was trying to remember the name of it so I went online to Google it and found some interesting songs on YouTube. Man, they put everything up there nowadays. When I was a kid, it was “Jesus Loves Me.” I found a video of some kid in a rainbow wig singing that. What kind of context would that be for people looking at that video 200 years from now?

Then I found the pot of gold. (A little Irish humor for you today.) Seriously, this video made my jaw drop. I knew I wasn’t supposed to laugh because it’s a praise song afterall, but again, context is everything. Maybe back in the 70’s this would seem cool. Some of the lyrics include, “He’ll zap you any way can (Zap),” and “I can praise God and still play rock and roll.” Oh My Girlish Figure.

Okay. Moving on. The third video is from my favorite comedian, Tim Hawkins, who discusses Christmas songs. Take a minute and a half and just enjoy it and laugh.

And the last video is in fact one of my favorite hymns. There are so many to choose from. The context? A hard world can be changed with the love of our Father. Be content, be generous, be loving, be gracious, and take the gift you’ve been given. No strings attached.

Jesus Loves Me

Jammin for Jesus

Tim Hawkins, Give the kid a blanket

Take My Life

And then there’s probably a video here that was placed here by WordPress for advertising. 🙂

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