Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dear FA

Ever since Phoebe and I got home from visiting Jordan at Camp Forest Acres, we can't stop ourselves from singing camp songs. "We'll follow, the swallow, to the camp of all our dreams..." Forest Acres your girls are marching..." These infectious old songs, some of them more than 50 years old, have a way of sticking with you. Much like the camp itself, the songs are among the many traditions that FA keeps up that pulls girls back to their beautiful surroundings of Fryeburg, Maine year after year.

This time was particularly special because Jordan was in Log 1, had been voted to be one of the Green Team captains and, on our last night at camp, would get one of the highest honors the camp offers. How wonderful it was to see the natural leader Jordan has become. How the girls flocked to her, listened to her and looked up to her. She led her team with enthusiasm and pride- and even after a defeat at the sing, she was emotional, but also happy for her best friend's win on the Tan team.

At Friendship circle, all the songs and poems came back to me as if they had never left my brain. When Bert stood up with the glow of the fire behind her and called Jordan's name to join the White Pine circle, I was filled with such pride. The tears were unstoppable. What a deserving girl she is for such an honor.

As a parent, being back up to camp and having the privilege of staying in a cabin with Phoebe, I was able to see how much care goes into their philosophy. The girls, regardless of their fierce loyalty to their teams, showed so much love and care for each other. There is acceptance, respect and an abundance of affection. What a rare bubble to witness girls of such tender ages showing such kindness and love to their fellow campers of every shape, size and background. For a full 7 weeks, they truly do disconnect from our technology-tethered world and reconnect on a human level.

For Phoebe, camp was a chance at rare independence. In New York City, there are not many times she can go off by herself and find her way back. She checked in with me often, but also was able to find her way from the pool to our cabin to Tanglewood or Tip Top and back. She made fast friends with some of the youngest girls in Cabin 4 and even discovered the stables and made friends with the horses. Watching her wander around FA and connect with the girls was pure joy for this ex-camper. So many people asked Phoebe if she was ready for Rookie camp next year. For now, I think Phoebe likes being at camp with her Mom, but when she's ready, I know FA will embrace her. I know she will be cared for. I know she will learn and grow and maybe even become a leader like her big cousin.

When I asked Phoebe what the best part of camp was, without hesitation she said, "Being with Jordan." I am so grateful for this moment they shared and to know that camp will connect us all for years to come.

Here was one poem I had not remembered, but came back to me in an instant. It is read before the girls elected for unit honor come up to throw a pinecone in the fire.

"For lowly deeds,
for unkind thoughts,
for words so hastily spoken,
the burning of this pine cone is forgiveness,
our woodland token."

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