Much has been made of the excruciatingly high temperatures of the past week. And it has been hot. Super-duper, painfully hot. The kind of hot that swimming isn't enough to relieve. The kind of hot that my two and a half year old cannot understand. He asks repeatedly, typically in the late afternoon (the hottest part of the day), to go outside. It's seriously difficult to explain that just isn't wise.
However, a group of the most dedicated people I know have spent the week being outside 24 hours per day. Even their inside is outside, and this blistering heat is one of the only reasons I am glad not to be with them (the other main reasons are my sweet children, but that is a given). Camp El Tesoro is in my soul. It's a living, breathing part of me. I spent the majority of my free time inhabiting this place the entirety of my college career. This one week, often the hottest of the year, taught me more about strength and compassion than any other experiences to date. The camp is full of grieving children. Children filled with more pain and dealt more bad luck than any one heart should ever know. You see, they have all had someone they love die. Death from a variety of causes--murder, car accidents, cancer, heart attack, drowning, suicide. You name the heinous act and a child has experienced it's pain. Being present in the face of this pain is humbling and transforming, for how can ones so young provide such hope and such an example of how cruel life can be all at the same moment? I don't know the answer, but I do know that for this week, and often many more moments during the summer, I think: "oh, it's time for group," or "free swim time," or "I bet they are headed to the chapel right now."
A mark that deep on your soul is forever alive, burning in memories. I don't know when, or if, volunteering at Camp El Tesoro de la Vida is in my future, but the 10 summers I spent sweating in out are part of my essence, connecting me to the thing I fear more than anything--carrying on without someone I love. This is for my dear, dear friends who choose to spend vacation in 100+ degree temps, confronting the demons of children because they WANT to be there. I'm not there, but I travel there in my dreams.