Camp Butterfly: Transformation Starts Within
Of everything that transpired within those 10 days, there is one moment that replays in the cinema of my mind and heart. It was Sunday and I remember sitting down to lunch, observing the transformation of girls who, only a few days earlier, were so guarded. I was preparing myself for the closing ritual when one of the cousins, IyKeisha, came up to me. (At camp, we address the girls as "cousins" and they refer to us as either "Auntie" or "Mama.")
"May I sit next to you?" she asked.
"Of course you can," I said before even allowing her to finish her sentence. As she set down her plates and cup of lemonade, I watched her laugh at two of the cousins who were seated across from us.
As I slowly refrained from my mind's bank of memories, IyKeisha looked at me and said, "And you...you made me more confident in myself, Auntie Dee."
Everything around me became blurry as the tears made their trek down my cheek bones, dropping into my hands. The sounds of laughter and conversations were drowned out by the intense beating of my heart. At that moment, everything stood still.
"Are you crying, Auntie Dee?" Cousin IyKeisha asked.
A few seconds passed before I was able to push aside the lump of emotion that had settled in my throat. I looked at her the way my mom looks at me whenever I say something to her that has touched her heart in some way. I was deeply moved beyond words and realized that the moment did not need any verbal correspondence to validate it. So I remained silent and let my tears and spirit speak. Cousin IyKeisha, as if sensing the space I was in, rested her head on my shoulder and cried with me. Experiences like these always happen at camp, so thankfully no one interrupted with questions. I came out of my solitude and was finally able to get a few words in through all of the tears.
"I don't think you will ever know how much what you said meant to me." And with that, I squeezed her hand and let the last few tears journey down my face; I then knew that this experience, this interaction, this intimacy, this love, this intense transformation, this space of safety is what life is all about. In that moment, it became even more real to me that the reason why we are here is to make life better for someone else. I knew that moments like these are the reason why I breathe.
The mission and motto of Camp Butterfly is to "transform the world one girl at a time." What is most amazing is that not only are the girls we serve transformed, but the counselors who work there are too. My life is deeply enriched having experienced and worked with such an organization, and through Camp Butterfly, I have realized that change is indeed possible. The transformation, however, first starts with me.
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