I love everyone when I first meet them. I have always been like that. It’s how I am. From there, I will either love you more, the same, or less. I work from the top down. My husband is the opposite. He works from the bottom up. You have to earn it with him.

I have found the truly special people are the ones we agree on; the ones where we meet in the middle. My husband’s instincts are, admittedly, much better than mine when it comes to adults—but I think mine are pretty good when it comes to kids. That’s probably because, during the summer months, I have the privilege of being surrounded by lots of them.

When I say I have loved every one of the kids that has walked through the gates of Camp Tanuga, it’s true. Some I will grow to love even more, and some will maintain, but every single kid that comes to camp has an instant place in my heart. From there, it’s up to them to decide if they want me in their life, and how much.

Unless I already know a kid from home, all new campers are pretty much Jack or Jill. I get a cabin list at the start of each session, but I lose it 10 min later. It’s OK though, I don’t need it. I figure out a way to make my presence known—and the ones who want to know me, or want me to know them—do the same.

I do my best to know as many kids as I can, but it’s hard. I work a lot, so I can’t be out there all the time. Plus they’re campers doing camp stuff, they don’t need me in their face all the time (even though I think they do).

I have been most fortunate over the years to cross paths with some very special people through camp. Some are loyal, returning campers or staff who count the days until summer rolls around, and some are former campers or staff who have (sadly) had to move on, but will never be forgotten.

I recently started referring to those special people as Tanuga Legends.

A Tanuga Legend doesn’t necessarily have to jive with me, they just have to jive with camp. (Thankfully most of the Tanuga Legends I have known have done both.) A Tanuga Legend is someone who personifies camp and the magic it holds. They treat other campers as they’d want to be treated, they exude good energy, and they uphold traditions. They regard camp as if it’s their home, because it is.

I certainly don’t know all the Tanuga Legends because Camp Tanuga started in 1952 and I wasn’t born yet, but the ones I have known have left such an impression that, to me, they are treasured icons—and they are rare.

And then, even rarer, are the warriors.

It’s crazy to me how many warriors I have come across in my years at camp, considering how rare they are. Warriors (at least the ones I have met) come from a strong tribe, so they inhabit a great deal of strength themselves. They have also been through some level of trauma or adversity most of us will never understand. Some willingly (and literally) enlisted, but some did not. Some didn’t see it coming.

The thing about warriors, though, is they rise to the occasion, no matter what it is—and oftentimes above it. That’s how warriors do, that’s WHY they are warriors, and to love a warrior is both an honor and a privilege.

I have boasted and bragged more than once on Dim Sum and Doughnuts about the warriors in my life because I’m proud of them. They’ve taught me so much, and they have enriched both my life and the life of my family. But they have also caused great pain.

You see, the very things that make these people warriors, are also the things that affect the people who love them. They make us sad (sometimes really sad), they make us lose sleep (not cool), and two of them even made me throw up (twice/once for each). It’s hard to separate myself from thinking their pain isn’t also mine, because a part of each one of them is.

That’s how it goes though. If you are lucky enough to play a part in the life of a warrior, there will be times when they turn you into a complete and totally wrecked worrier. It’s the price we pay to be in their lives, and it’s a high price. I can’t imagine my life, camp life, or the life of my family without them though—and I’m so very grateful I don’t have to.

We all are.

#TanugaLegends #TanugaMagic #CampTanuga