hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – proverbs 13:12
For those of you just tuning in (to my blog or to my life) I recently moved to Connecticut to accept a position as a Hospital Outreach Specialist for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, henceforth referred to as Camp. Camp, the name itself referring to Butch’s gang of bandits in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is a magical place for children with chronic and serious illnesses that was started by Paul Newman, Academy Award winning actor and yes, the “salad dressing guy”.
Let me rewind. So I’m obsessed with Paul Newman. I mean, I’m not trying to be creepy, but I may or may not celebrate his birthday and the anniversary of his death. I may or may not have framed pictures of him hanging in my apartment. I may or may not own all of his movies. Truth be told, he had a lot to do with my decision to become a child life specialist. It’s kind of intense, but let’s be real, he was smoking hot.
Because of my, let’s call it appreciation, for Paul Newman I had wanted to get involved with this camp for some time. As the fates would have it, I applied on a whim for my current position, and two months later I had officially become a New Englander.
Fast forward to my first day on the job–my first visit to camp. This was a moment I had been waiting for most of my adult life. I woke up before my alarm, ready to get the day started and spent an hour on the road preparing myself for the emotional experience ahead. Naturally, I stopped at Dunkin in an attempt to digest my feelings, physically and metaphorically. Alas, my plan was thwarted, and my tear ducts won out in the end. When I pulled into the driveway, I immediately started crying. (Shocking, I know.) I was able to get myself together after a 2 mile stretch of road winding through Camp, but when I met my boss at the administrative building, her simple question of, “How are you doing?” was met with my tearful response, “I’m just so happy!”
We went to the back of the admin building so I could I brew a K-Cup of Newman’s Own Medium Roast to start my day the organically caffeinated way. (For those of you wondering, there ARE Newman’s Own food products to be found ALL over camp!) The walls were covered with pictures from camp, pictures of Mr. Newman with kids at camp. It was like having an out of body experience; like I had just found out that unicorns actually exist. I mean, here I am face to face with the reality that a man I have loved and admired did, in fact, start this amazing camp…AND THIS IS MY JOB!!!
So that was pretty much my day—wandering around in a state of complete wonderment (yes, I looked up this word to make sure I was using it correctly), meeting each and every member of the Camp team, getting to know their roles and falling more and more in love with Camp, my coworkers and Paul Newman. An entire day spent marveling at the life God has blessed me with. I had an incredible lunch with the Director of Camp Operations, Matt. (Separate post to come about the life changing conversation that took place.) Of course, there were several more instances of me not being able to contain my emotions, but the best part was that no one seemed at all concerned. It was like, “Oh yea, this is totally what happens the first time people come to camp!”
When Mr. Newman died (September 26, 2008), a little piece of my dream died. I still wanted to be a child life specialist, but I’d never get to meet the man who had impacted the course of my life so greatly. I’d never get to thank him for the legacy of generosity and compassion he instilled in so many people. I’d never get to hang out with him at camp. But after leaving camp that day, a little piece of the dream came back to life. I was able to meet so many of the people who have been a part of Camp from the very beginning, people who knew Mr. Newman personally. I was able to walk through the buildings he designed, sit on the porch of the dining hall and look out over the frozen lake. I was able to experience the “different kind of healing” he envisioned bringing to children with life threatening illnesses. His dream for camp lives on, and through that dream, a small piece of him. I immediately thought of the scripture Proverbs 13:12 which reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” I feel so lucky to serve a God who knows the desires of my heart and chooses to fulfill them beyond my imagination or expectation.
And that, my friends, is the magic of camp.