Sunday, August 1, 2010

a hole in the woods...

On July 2, I boarded an Amtrak train bound for Albany--and 2 weeks that would change my life. That sounds dramatic, I know...but it's still true.

About an hour north of Albany, tucked away from the road behind a man-made lake, is a hole in the woods. You are greeted with whoops and applause, with grins and laughter. You are instructed to Dream Make Magic Happen. And then you do. But you don't just create the magic, you find it. You experience it. You are surrounded by and immersed in it.

Kids arrive by bus, van, and car. They are greeted with cheers and whistles. Their bags are carried and they are excited to find out if they are Muskrats or Chipmunks, Bobcats or Foxes. Parents smile from ear-to-ear as the kids are reunited with old friends and old counselors.

And then? The madness and fun begins! Parents and siblings get back in the cars, and campers begin their week of campfires, carnivals, high ropes, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, and (Not to mention the Great Escape!) Meals are controlled chaos--counselors serve family style meals and cheers travel from table to table as campers and counselors alike pound on the tables and jump up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs. You find yourself joining in, yelling about ukeleles, bazooka (zooka) bubble gum, and worms. You do it for the laughter, for the light in their eyes.

These are kids who live in hospitals and doctors offices during the year. They don't get to play sports with their classmates or ride their bikes around the neighborhood. They take handfuls of pills and always feel like the sick kids. But then they come to this hole in the woods and they're 'normal.' (Whatever that is!) They get lifted out of their wheelchairs and onto horses. They climb cargo nets 30 feet high and navigate a high ropes course. They catch fish and use paddle boats. They ride roller coasters. They re-enact the Boston Tea Party and roast marshmallows over a campfire.

I could go on forever. I learned so much, saw so much, fell so deeply in love with the kids, the camp, and the people who are committed to making it a place that our kids and their families can come year-round. Biggest lesson? Find the Joy. Every day, everywhere. It really is all around you when you're looking for it.

Camp really did change my life. So much so, that I'm thinking of doing something really crazy to celebrate that change. More on that soon...

Double H Ranch