Ever since childhood, there were always a handful of places I considered magical and I always dreamed that these places would always be there, if not for all time, then at the very least, for all of my life. An unexpected course of recent events has suddenly forced me to replace my lifelong dreams with less marvelous ones for which I must dream instead. Realizing finally that no matter what, these things will never change for us at all.

Childhood heroes, people I thought were my friends, and all the things for which I held in such firm belief to be true, though, in the end, I’ve come to realize that everything I believed so steadfastly to be true, was truly flawed. The admiration I felt was loosely based on precious childhood illusions, much like the fleeting ghosts of empty promises.

I first met Daniel when I was a first-year camp counselor. Daniel was seven years old at the time; he was a tiny, quiet, and unassuming child who had an insatiable desire to wander around was always getting himself lost. For many years, Daniel and I have kept in touch like two ships that pass in the night, until Daniel confessed to me that I was his childhood hero. I’m reminded of the Walt Whitman poem Among The Multitude, which describes that one friend who knows you for who you truly are, and in my case, Daniel is that friend. Recently, during the duration of a long-distance phone call, which carried on for hours of deep thought and unbridled discussion, Daniel and I discussed the one person whom I believed to be my childhood hero. Current events have now left me with the realization that my childhood hero was never there for me when I was a small child, and there is evidence that they were never the person I thought they were. Admiration is a curious and sometimes evolving emotion that can change in an instant, based on one’s perspectives and life experiences.

Lately, I have been worrying about inconsequential and trivial matters, such as the balance of my bank account, my credit score, my social media presence, and the mere fact that lately, I have felt as if I am a failure simply because I perceive the modern educational system as flawed and accordingly lack any interest in pursuing a college degree. The winter has left me alone with Amelia with an abundance of time in which to ponder and discuss the mysteries of life.

Since my breakup with Angie, Daniel and I have called one another almost every single day, our souls speak from across the miles, so many years since I was a staff member at the summer camp in 1998, when Daniel was just 7 years old. Lately, the topic of our conversation has evolved from post-relationship breakup to now discussing my hopes and dreams of preserving camp, which was, in essence, the only defining reason how I was able to survive such a traumatic childhood. My dreams of preserving a place so special and important to us, as the hours of discussion progress, and as my dreams become his, paradoxically it is the reality that if I tried to save camp on my own, I would be risking everything I spent a lifetime working for.

And yet, I feel as if it would all be worth it in the end.

Photography for this article includes Dummy and The Camp Chateaugay Wilderness sign, photographed in 2008.

Somewhere I Feel Free | The Brightness Of Tom | When Is It Time To Let Go | Camp Chateaugay, In Pictures (1991-2000) | Returning To Camp Chateaugay Wilderness After 19 Years Away | It Came Without Warning | 2018 Camp Chateaugay Reunion | A Week At Camp

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