With less than four weeks until my cross country move, I have been sifting through my belongings, determining what is worth moving (all my issues of Sassy, the seminal 90s teen magazine… obvi) and what to donate (old college text books… seriously, how do I still have some of these?). While I’ve pondered setting the whole place on fire rather than go through this time consuming process, it’s nothing compared to saying goodbye to friends. This is especially true of saying farewell to my friends at The Laurel Foundation, where I have had the great fortune to work for ten years. At The Laurel Foundation I honed my professional skills while working to support the needs of kids living with HIV/AIDS. But what this really means is that I got to go to CAMP!! Camp, for those not indoctrinated into this crazy world of songs, costumes, and wigs, is first and foremost a family. The staff of camp counselors and medical professionals are all volunteers. And miraculously, they return year after year to create consistency for the kids and each other. Camp is an emotionally and physically intense experience, but its magic combination of heart and camraderie creates an incomparable sense of friendship and family. I am proud to be part of this family. Over the years, I have been fortunate to meet and befriend some of the most inspiring, encouraging, loving, patient, loyal, genuine, creative, intelligent, and fabulous people on the planet. Friends from camp have become my confidantes, partners in crime and costume, and inspired me take this journey with my family in New York. After attending every single one of the 37 camps that have occurred over the last ten years, it hurts to leave. And while I have a new family to discover in New York, it doesn’t make saying good-bye any easier. Where else can I wear a giant afro wig with a bird in it and be accepted? Most of all, I can’t imagine wanting to be accepted any place else.
To you, my fabulous camp friends, I dedicate the great GOLDEN GIRLS theme song, Thank You for Being a Friend! I hope to see you at camp very soon.