Camp Discovery has been a big part of my life for the past five years. Five summers I've spent one week in July in Kerrville in a world all of its own. If you've been following this blog for some time, you know how I love camp. Love so much about it. I often find myself at a loss for words at how to properly describe the atmosphere and environment of camp. I've written for years about the campers and their inspiration.
Tonight, I'm not coming here to write about the campers. I want to write about the counselors. Specifically, about one very special counselor.
I met Katrina "Kat" Davidson standing in front of Christus Santa Rosa Hospital my very first summer. As volunteers were rushing to greet others, reunited for the first time in months or even a full year, I stood on the side not knowing anyone. Kat made a point to say hello and introduce herself before rushing off herself to hug another friend she loved. Two days later, I got to have my first real conversation with Kat.
We were in the gym in a circle with the "yellow girls," her cabin of adorable campers. After we played a few rounds of some game with the girls, the campers skipped off leaving me and Kat sitting on the gym floor. First, she told me why she came to camp as a camper herself. As a teen, Kat was diagnosed with cancer. She started coming to camp at age sixteen and was hooked. Two years as a camper and then the rest of her time as a counselors. Kat was a cancer survivor and a role model to the children she was there to help. I felt inspired sitting talking with her. I began telling her my story. Before I could finish, she stopped me. She already knew my story. Had spent time on http://www.scotthousehold.com/ and had cried about Allie. In fact, she had recently written a paper and did a presentation on childhood cancer and specifically Allie. She and I sat on the floor and cried. I knew we were friends and so did she.
Over the years, Kat has been one of my favorite things about camp. She gave the best hugs when standing in front of Christus Santa Rosa Hospital on our first day of volunteer orientation. Maybe it's her height--so much taller than me, that it made me feel enveloped. We kept up throughout the year--Facebook, getting together for dinner, volunteering at Heroes for Children a few times. At camp, she loved helping in Arts & Crafts. She helped me set up my area after she finished working in her cabin. She joined me during "Happy Nappy" if she had a counselor break. I looked forward to yellow girls and orange girls (last year when she was a counselor she moved to the orange girls, officially making it my favorite group of counselors with Sara and Terri too!) coming in for their session with me.
If you haven't noticed yet, I'm using the past tense. I don't like it. Not one bit. You see, this last week, camp experienced a huge loss. My sweet, funny, snarky, sarcastic, loving, selfless friend passed away.
Oh dear, did I really just type those words??? Yes, I did. I know I did. I sat in a church and watched a slideshow of Kat's life yesterday at her memorial service. I hugged my camp family as we cried and remembered our friend. I introduced myself to her mother who coincidentally stopped me as I tried to introduce myself. She already knew me. She knew my story. Kat had told her all about me, and as Sue told me this, I cried and hugged her.
Kat had bronchitis and pneumonia that wouldn't go away. As a teen, radiation had damaged her lungs. I always knew her lungs weren't great, but never thought too much about it. Until she got sick and couldn't get better. Two weeks before her death, Kat walked herself into the ER because her cough was worse. Within hours, she was emergency intubated. She spent two weeks in the ICU before passing last Tuesday. I got updates frequently from our friend Terri who was in contact with Kat's mother Sue. Because Kat was in ICU, the family had requested no visitors. Maggie (who loved Miss Kat) and I made Kat a get well soon card, but I was holding on to it until I knew she was a little more stable and would be able to read the card. I never got to send it.
Camp Discovery will never be the same. Camp wasn't just a week of the year for Kat Davidson. It was a major, intregal part of her life. It was a part of her and she was most definitely a big part of it. The idea of walking up to greet the other volunteers in front of Camp Discovery without Kat to envelope me in one of her big hugs makes me hurt so badly.
Tonight, I remember my friend. I'm looking at my yellow and orange friendship bracelet Sara made me last night at the camp party I hosted at my house for us to all be together. Can't stop staring at it. This summer when I go to Camp Discovery, I will honor her as best as possible.
And I'll miss her. Always.