I lost a dear friend.
A kind soul.
He was the best of the best.
And I will miss him.
I saw him two years ago, when I was asked to go back to my camp to help direct one of the plays. CAMP TAMAKWA. One of the most amazing summer camps in North America, in my opinion. And this is my blog, so my opinion is clearly what counts. So, Camp Tamakwa in Algonquin Park, Ontario it is. The most picturesque place on earth. Its quiet. And calm. Beautiful. And set in the forest off the South Tea Lake, yes…it’s in the woods. And it’s everything I am not. Which is why my family just about died when I said I was going to be the Drama Director there in 1991. Me, this Jewish American Princess attending one of the largest Universities in the Midwest, was going to head straight north to Canada. I had never been to camp. Ummm, strike that. I had never been camping, period. Camping for me was the Red Roof Inn. But my best friend Lori was going, and my closest guy friend from MSU, Jason…so I decided what the hell? How bad could this be?
No blow dryers, no cars. No candy, or gum. No hot showers, or make up mirrors. Nada. Just me, and the wilderness. You literally had to take a boat to get to camp. A BOAT. It was surrounded by water on three sides. I think that’s called a peninsula? Ya. I remember, when I got there…I had packed 6 duffle bags. (you were allowed 2) The camp director laughed and said, “Nice Hurvitz. Up the hill!” And I sat there looking for the bell-boy. I was flipping out. But it ended up being the best experience of my entire life. At 19 years old, I was changed. This camp changed me for the better; I ended up learning the best life’s lessons. And how to piss in the woods. Kinda. How to portage a canoe, ok…not well, but I did it. How to work as a team. And how to rely on my friends, and let them become my family. I fell in love that summer, with my best friend from school…we were the “Tamakwa Couple” to beat. I was instantly smitten with all things Tamakwa. And I went back the next summer, gladly. Nothing could keep me away.
Tamakwa was instantly a part of me.
So, today…when I heard the news of my friend’s passing, I had to write this. To remind myself of the importance of life. And living it. The importance of being in the moment, and loving with your whole heart. Telling people how much you care about them. Saying what you want to say, when you feel it…not waiting. Say it. Just say it all. Life is too short, it is! Take chances, and make changes. Put down that cell phone, and listen to your children talk. Engage. Before it’s too late. Ugh, I’m crying. I am sobbing. Hold on, I can’t even see to type. Ok, back…sorry. Been a tough day, the bug guy found snakes under my house, too. Can you even believe it? There are like 378 different kind of snakes in the world, and 377 of them actually live in North Carolina! Fuck me.
Anyway, I was so lucky…I got to sit, and talk with my friend over coffee two years ago…when I was back at camp. We talked about my divorce. And this blog. He listened intently, and cared. He asked me really deep questions, it had been almost 20 years since we had seen each other. I was so much younger then, when I worked for him. I was “all grown up” is what he said, and we laughed. But he told me I had the same smile. I told him I wasn’t that same “crazy girl” and that 20 years had made me much more mature. We both cracked up at that.
I want to be at his funeral. I hate that I’m so far away. I hate that I can’t be with all my camp friends, and say my goodbyes. But this is so not about me. This is about one of the best men I have ever known. A great mentor. I adored him. And I loved working with him. I mean, everyone did. Tamakwa is a place that will be in my heart forever, and so will he…I just can’t believe he’s gone.
You will be forever missed, and forever remembered, Dave Bale. And now, may the great camper of all good campers…be with us ’til we meet again.
How How. ;)