Love


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

There once was a little girl who loved to sing and dance and play with her brothers and sisters. She was the fourth of five children and always a favorite among her family. Her early life started out in Indiana but then the family moved to the west side of Cleveland where her father worked in the Presbyterian church. Every summer they packed up the family car and drove way up north to an exceptionally beautiful lake in Michigan. It was on Walloon Lake that she learned how to sail and swim and made many friends.

As a young women she spread her joy and love to the kids who attended the local camp on the lake where she worked as a counselor. Singing, dancing and playing games with kids continued through her summers and then on to her years in college.

A very generous aunt and uncle saw the potential in her and sent her to Wooster where she made more friends and spread her joy and love to the people she met there. An adventurous one, she moved to New Mexico after college to work there for awhile before heading to New York where she lived with her older sister and her nephews and nieces. She earned a master’s degree and then got a job at Cornell University.

It was at Cornell that this young woman met the love of her life and then went on to spend the next 50 years with him. This beautiful young woman took care of her husband and soon had a little baby boy. This special boy was born while she lived with her husband on base in Munich, Germany. The army nurses weren’t exactly helpful to this new mother as they dumped sheets on her bed and told her to make her own bed (right after giving birth). She was a tough one this young woman!

More adventures ensued as they took little baby Greg on the road while they climbed mountains and toured Europe. Back to the states they went and soon had a little girl to round out the family. This young mother stayed home raising these two children, spreading her joy and love to them and everyone she met.

This woman grew in her faith, continued to always be a supportive and loving person, and to this day is the most wonderful mom a girl could ask for. This woman is now a grandmother, spreading her joy and love to four of the luckiest kids in the world. They get to call this woman grandma and know that they are loved and prayed for every day.

Thanks mom. I love you and your story will live on through me and your always grateful family. You have been through many trials in your life and continue to come through them with grace and style. You are a great role model and I’m glad you’re my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,

Your kid.

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