Thursday, October 4, 2018

Chlorine, Converse, and the Beauty of Friends.

The beauty of social media -- I know I sound like a broken record when I say this -- is being able to reconnect with people I have known in every season of my life.

There were some serious dark ages where long-distance phone calls cost a fortune and email was not yet a thing. I know. I'm old.

So, leaving college and moving out of state, meant losing contact with those friends who I enjoyed knowing and talking with but my long-distance budget required that I limit calling. Oh sure, we wrote letters, or at least we sent Christmas cards. But in those early years out of college and newly-married, we all scattered and moved a lot and keeping up-to-date sometimes fell through the cracks.

But for ten years or so, I have delighted in finding friends from high school and college -- seeing their families, watching those families grow. I have found great joy in the re-connections and have even had some in-life reunions as a result! And perhaps one of the sweetest parts of this has been reuniting with my Garawya girls -- the girls who worked at Camp Garaywa with me during our summers in college.

Oh we lived large those summers -- we corralled little girls, we marched with our little campers following as we sang, and skipped, and kept them giggling in a valiant effort to ensure they did NOT miss home! 

We learned lifeguard skills and sported tans and chlorine-bleached hair. We learned to start campfires, and cook over them! We learned to wake on a moment's notice and deal with all manner of emergency. Those summers smelled of sunscreen and bug spray and a healthy dose of chlorine and THE best chocolate brownies I have ever had.

I have no idea what we were doing. I'm sure it was quite serious, however.

And we bonded. There are no walls when you are serving as camp counselors together. We shared cabins and a bathhouse. We found our silliest self and performed skits, and sang songs, and just giggled. We shared details of our lives and walked with each other through hard stuff. We overcame fears and pushed our physical limits. And we did it all together.

Skit night.

Oh yes, reconnecting with the Garaywa girls has been one of my favorite things.

And this week, one of our group lost her son. That isn't even accurate. She didn't lose him. He died from the horrible that is cancer. But she didn't lose him. She knows exactly where he is and her joy on  Social Media in this horrible, very hard, terrible thing has reached through the screen and grabbed me. I have prayed for this young man for years as he battled, recovered, lived. And I am grieving with her -- even though I never had the chance to meet Harrison in person.

A  young me and my friend Charla singing at camp -- "Jesus Never Fails."

And so I keep thinking about those young girls who spent their summers working, serving, loving life. And I wish I could go hug them and scream, "Enjoy these days. There are hard days coming. There are great days coming too. But outside these camp grounds bad things can happen. Hard things can hit. Climb back in that lifeguard stand and relish the chlorine-scented moments!!"

But even as I type that, I know that we were already facing hard things. We didn't need to be reminded that life could get harder.

Perhaps the one that needs to be reminded is 50-year-old me...perhaps I need to remember to find my silly. Maybe I need to jump in a pool and let the chlorine do its magic. Maybe, there are some pink converse and a silly skit just waiting for me to perform.

And maybe the biggest lesson of all: I need to remember that walking hand in hand with some amazing friends who will hug me, love me, laugh with me, cry with me, and always (always always) point me to Jesus was the real magic of Garawya and the memories that I hold so dear.

So Charla, I am here. I can put on some silly on a moment's notice. I can offer a shoulder. Or lend an ear. I'll even grab a couple of mics and sing my heart out with you (I can't however fit myself back into those white pants! ;) ). I love you, friend.

Carol - The Blessings Counter