Three years ago today I was bald…bald and just finishing up months of grueling treatment for breast cancer. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But looking into the faces of my kids, who were 2 & 4 at the time, I would tell you that all of it was worth it. There was no question that I was going to fight with everything I had. Some people will tell you that cancer is a gift. I do not belong to that club, because never would I give the “gift” of cancer to someone I cared about. Cancer itself is not a gift, but if you look closely enough, you can see the gifts it brings along with it. I pictured cancer as a big dark cloud, but surrounded by so many silver linings. I will never be grateful for cancer, but I am grateful for the many times grace showed up during those dark hours. I am grateful for the outpouring of support from the Deerhorn family. I am grateful for the ways in which we were loved and carried through those tough times. And I am grateful for the focus that cancer brought into my life…the reminder to be grateful for all the little things that previously I had taken for granted…the whisper in my ear to slow down and be present because the little moments truly are the big moments…the focus that showed me what was truly important. I try really hard these days to not sweat the small stuff, to “see the forest for the trees” so to speak. After going through all of that, living a life of gratitude comes more easily these days, for even the simplest things in life.
Several weeks ago, we went to Chicago for a camp presentation, and as I looked back over the weekend, I was overwhelmed with how full our lives are. We have so many incredible friends in the Chicago area that we can’t fit them all into one weekend. Ryder & Rowan are growing up surrounded by people who care about them, and are learning how to make new friends wherever they go. What a gift. And most of these people have come into our lives because of Deerhorn. Whether we were on staff together, or they have come to Father Son camp, or sent their boys as campers…because of camp, our circle of friends grows bigger every year. I love realizing that it’s not just us…it’s what happens when you enter into the Deerhorn Family. Friendships are formed and many of them last for decades.
And here is another thing I am grateful for. These four…Taylor, Ryder, Rowan, and Kiana. They are the 4th generation of Camp Deerhorn, and a constant reminder of why we do what we do. Working together as a family isn’t always easy. We are different people with different ideas. But I constantly remind myself that deep down, we all want the same thing…we want Camp Deerhorn to continue into the 4th generation of family ownership. We want more generations of Deerhorn campers to experience that Boyhood Adventure.
So this Thanksgiving, my heart is bursting with gratitude. I am grateful to have found Deerhorn by chance 17 years ago. I am grateful for a family with a strong work ethic, who put their heart and soul into making Deerhorn even better. I am grateful for children whose faces remind me of the best of life. And I am grateful for the Deerhorn family, and the joy it brings to our lives. Thank you for being a part of it.
What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?