Do you have a happy place? Do you have special memories that will never leave you? How about experiences that shaped your life and gave you lifelong friends?

There are so many challenges we face—even on a normal day or year. So, it’s important for us, children and adults, to have moments of mindfulness and days or weeks of turning off work and electronics and taking deep breaths in our happy places with our loved ones (including those we haven’t met yet).

Right now, try hearing this song in your head—the one that starts, “Once I was seven years old, my mama told me go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely.” Well, once I was 12 years old and my mama drove me to Camp Tockwogh. I was nervous and almost went home, but so glad I didn’t. I met new friends, learned how to sail, ski, and make friendship bracelets, and had the best time of my life. So much so that I kept going back.

Once I was 14 years old, and a junior counselor in my village (groupings of similar aged campers) came bounding over to me, introduced herself, and started talking to me about swimming. She heard I was a competitive swimmer and wanted to get to know me.

Once I was 20 years old, and that JC, Amy Lessack, had become a very good friend of mine. As I was still working at camp, my friends and I would keep an extra staff bed in our cabin so she could come down each weekend and play with us and the kids.

Once I was 30 something years old and Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the course of the next year and a half she fought like a warrior and “beat” cancer. Or so we thought. Our camp friends came from far and wide for a survivor party.

Once I was 50 years old and my friend Amy said she was letting go of her cancer fight of 18 years. And 10 days later I had to finally face the reality that she was gone. I’ve not gone a day since without tears.

But with each tear I’m reminded of a happy memory. A large and wonderful laugh. A spontaneous adventure. A hug. An important talk. A lot of that happened at Camp Tockwogh but the friendship and adventures could not be contained and were year-round and all over the world. That was Amy, a global gift giver of love.

Amy gave so much of herself—her time, money, expertise, advice, and an abundance of love. Some of her gifts included teaching countless kids how to get up on skis, serving on the boards of

Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and Camp Tockwogh, listening to friends talk about their problems and being present with them while doing so, hugging the children of her friends, and donating money to causes—especially to her happy place—Camp Tockwogh, so that others could be blessed with the experience of camp.

If you are still with me, I’m going to ask, in honor of my friend Amy, and so many other phenomenal counselors who have passed through camp, to please donate to Camp Tockwogh’s Keep Our Campfire Burning Campaign. Tockwogh (like so many others) took a big hit because of the pandemic. Tears flowed from campers, staff, and alumni who were not able to visit our hamlet of hope and happiness on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. They are still in great need of our help to bring to thousands of children (and adults, who’s kidding who here) the gifts of fun, new skills, confidence, friendship, and experiences they will never forget. Will you bless a child who otherwise would not be able to have this experience? Camp shaped my life and gave me so much, including a lifelong friend who God put on this earth to help shape the lives of so many others.

For Amy and the kids, please donate. Frankly, this last year stunk. Bring some light into 2021.

Donate Today to Keep Our Campfire Burning

“Soon I’ll be 60 years old, will I think the world is cold or will I have a lot of children who can warm me?”