Visions Camp has been part of my life for twenty years and today it hit me how invincible this place has made me feel during these past two decades. How invincible the relationships I’ve built there have always seemed.
For one week each summer, since I was a teenager, this is where the magic happened. My transformation from a teenager into an adult and a camper into a counselor happened here. The transformation of strangers into friends into lifelong connections.
And all the while, these relationships seemed like they’d never change, like the people we bore our souls to would always be here. We could come back year after year and while things would be different in the real world, nothing really changed who you were at camp.
During all this time, I never lost someone that was part of the camp dynamic. Even if you missed a year or could only visit for a day or night, we were all family and it seemed like because of this, because of our bubble, we were all invincible knowing we would always see each other again, someday. I came of age relying on these relationships.
But yesterday, one of the most important people in our camp family, Chris Dowd, found his place high above the chapel cross. The faith that camp instilled in me reminds me that he is in a better place and that he will remain in all of our hearts forever. But this loss opened my eyes to the realities of life that we so easily escape from during that one week each summer: that human beings are not actually invincible. That life is so very precious and fleeting.
Chris is embedded into camp like an oak tree that nourishes your soul and reminds you of home. His beautiful wife and daughters are also entwined into all of our memories. His sense of humour was second to none and kept us laughing late into many evenings (or early into the next morning). His love for music was enthralling and he will always be remembered with a guitar in his hand. And most of all, his no-holds-barred life advice got many of us through tough times.
His voice, his music and his laughter will forever ring throughout camp and it seems only fitting that the man who taught us all so many things about life is also the one to teach us about death and how, though one’s body is gone, a person that special can never truly leave your heart.
And in the the end, he has also taught us that, through the magic of camp, our memories are what truly tie our spirits together and those are what will never fade. That love is what will always remain invincible and that someday we will all be together again.
Until we meet again, Chris. Rest in Peace.