I sing to the firelight, an arm around a friend on each side. We sway as our voices jumble together, none of us knowing every word. As I miss a line, Shark and Chirp sing on for me, and I do the same for them. Dozens of tiny faces beyond the fire gaze into its light or straight at us. The three of us singing get the last song, of the campfire and of the week. This was the beginning of the end of one of the best weeks of my life. Each counselor had worked all week to make each kid’s outdoor experience a good one, and enjoy the camp in the process. We had all sung, we all laughed, and the counselors had given every shred of energy for the kids whose faces were now illuminated by the fire, uncommonly silent.

Rewind to the beginning, tumbling headlong into an unknown adventure with a group of friends. The 3am wake up call, the laughs on the bus and airplane to a place a few states away. New faces met us before we arrive, two of which I sing alongside at the closing campfire. Everyone gains a new identity with our camp names, which is who we are at camp. Meet Hocus, Wolf, Gazelle, Sky, Eggy, Toadie, Crawdad, Pascal, Shark, Chirp and so many more. Meet the kids, all one hundred and fourteen of them, and each counselor responsible for eight of them. Each of us meet our new cabins, and the adventure begins. Three days packed to the minute with trees, sand, ocean, sea creatures, and more to be discovered; singing all the way.

Guiding, supervising, teaching, and tending to the needs of eight kids, each of whose names I will never forget, was the greatest adventure and challenge I have ever faced; watching them discover another world outside the classroom walls was worth every second, every ache and every grain of sand in my shoe. And I found I had changed too, discovered a side of myself I had never known, and I saw the same in the other counselors.

In the midst of everything, I never thought it would end. I made amazing new friends in both old and new faces, spent a week in the outdoors helping kids explore, and discovered so much about the world. Yet every “river carves its way down to the ocean,” and I found myself at the final campfire, singing from my heart with friends on all sides. So I will “sing for the friends [I’ve] made, wherever they are” because “a million tomorrows shall all pass away/ Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today.”

10/16/2014