There is a place I Love. It is called Birch Camp.
Back in 1998 I volunteered to be a camp counselor at a camp for families in the NYC area, coping with HIV and AIDS. Little did I know I would stumble upon a family that I didn't know I had. People from all walks of life, from all across the globe were there. Professionals, clinicians, students, families, children and people who were simply and perfectly people. Thirteen years later, though I've missed a handful of summers, I still consider camp my home.
Over the years I've been lucky to have friends from Birch visit me in various locations, a few times in my own city (SF Bay Area). With each encounter I become more thankful for the opportunity to say, l these people my friends, my family. I know without a doubt that I could send out a message, an SOS, and they would show up for me. Crossing vast distances with great leaps and hops, arms outstretched.
I thought that I was volunteering to help others. I arrived expecting to be a support to those in need, to those that needed a safe space to collapse and become a puddle. Instead, I found that I needed the safe space just as much as the next person. I needed the support, the safe space to puddle, to dance with joy, to cover myself with glitter, to melt with laughter as much as the next person. I found a family at Birch Camp. I found a home.
Thirteen years later I am still filled with gratitude for this place that lives within me.
Thank you Birch. Thank you Birch Family. (Megan, JeffCox, and multiple others: Just because your photo isn't on this post doesn't mean you're not included in this . . . xoxo)
To "Volunteer" visit the Birch Family Camp website:
Be sure to pack beads and glitter.