To my beautiful Royal Family,
I just spent about 2o minutes going back and reading all the letters, like this one but so, so different, that I’ve written to you over the years. This is my 7th letter and would be my tenth year going up the mountain.
I sat here for 20 minutes and read over the lessons and stories and laughter and tears we’ve had. I gave a few “oh I forgot about that!” (mainly about last year and the coaches FINALLY FIGURING OUT THE POOL SYSTEM and also #RIPVarietyshow). I teared up thinking about each and every one of you and the impact you’ve had not only in the kid’s lives we serve but in me and in each other.
You can ask any of my friends in WA as we’ve been dealing with COVID and as I’ve been working day in and day out: every time something got canceled, like the musical I was in or the outdoor summer events, or theater we were going to see, I would say, “That sucks, it does, but at the end of the day I just care about camp”.
As I watched the way my sweet 3-5 year olds were responding to what was going on around them, all I could think of was our kids. Wherever they may be, not in school, and having to deal with the world around them.
And if I’m being honest I just couldn’t think about it too long. I even at one point avoided texting or calling Tyler and Priscilla because I didn’t want to accidentally glean any bad news that they might have had. I got at least a text or question per day from my friends here asking me about camp.
Then we got the news and I couldn’t sleep and I cried a lot.
I just had to stop thinking about it at some point because I had to keep moving forward and keep facing every new moment that this world is bringing these days and I had to show up for the 3 year olds in my care.
Then, this last week, my body knew something was up. Normally my week before camp is a chaotic spree of packing, shipping things to the Choi’s, prepping sub notes and projects for 7-8 days in my classroom and really not sleeping til I get on a bus to go to the airport in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday or Friday.
I felt so off all week and I had one night where I just cried. I cried for our kids, who were laying in beds with no light at the end of the tunnel, I cried for all of us staring at calendars and camp supplies we have dotted around our home.
The one thing I try to do with all of my heart at camp is to remind the kids who they are. Day in and day out. In whatever setting we are in.
I’ve done things at camp that I wouldn’t have done had it not been at camp. Like playing Haman, on a days notice. (new camp hashtag by Vanessa #hamanforthekids). Or being a coach and choosing to spend long hours in my bathing suit (which in reality my WA skin thanks me for my base tan every year). But, doing things out of my comfort zone at camp is important to me, because at the end of each day, I do those things for the kids, I do them so I can have another moment to interact with them, another moment to remind them who they are.
And because of that, what camp does in return, for all of us, whether we realize it or not, is remind US who we are.
So, even though we can’t be all together, I still, with everything in me, want to remind you who you are.
You are a people, that say yes to things, even if it feels hard, even if at the end it might feel as if your heart will break, you say yes to a week for the kids.
You are humans who chose joy, who choose to stand up and sing a Jana song at the end of the day even though you are exhausted because it’s for that camper sitting next to you who has refused to stand every other time, but right now, they are standing. You stand for the kids.
You are someone who will eat camp food for 5 days straight. You eat iceberg lettuce salads for the kids.
You are among a group of people who takes whatever gifts and talents you have and you lay them on the table and say, “here take these”. You give from what you have for the kids.
You are a person who takes a week off of work, who steps away from their family for a week, who shuts their phone down. You disconnect for the kids.
You are a human who wears sunglasses all of Friday. Because you cry for the kids.
We’re a family who is brokenhearted this week. Because we love our kids.
We do all these things because it matters to even just one of the kids.
And if you don’t remember who you are this week. If you feel lost, sad, tired, anything: know you aren’t alone.
And lastly, I want to share a photo with you.
This is a picture of my best friend Victoria hugging me on Saturday night ( yes night, it was like 930- welcome to summer in Western Washington near Canada.) Anyway, I had been crying after listening to Becca’s live on Facebook and she (and my other friends I’ve been introducing myself back too) came out to hug me.
She made me turn and look and see that this double rainbow had shimmered into existence in the filled directly behind us.
And she just said two words, “That’s Jesus”.
And it’s true.
That’s Jesus. Reminding me, us, that he has our kids. His kids.
They’ll be ok. We’ll be ok. We’ll side hug them again. But, as the light mist fell all around us, I was also reminded that it’s ok to cry.
To my Royal Family,
You are in my heart.
Our kids in my heart.
Let’s keep remembering who we are so we have even more to give them the next time we see their faces.
(and obvs, Junapera as well)