Sunday, February 10, 2013

So, why DDD?

I suppose answering the question is pretty simple, but requires a bit of back story.

I grew up going to summer camp. When I say that camp was and, depending on the day, still is my favorite place on the planet, I am not exaggerating, people. I was lucky enough to spend the month of July at camp. It will always be one of the most influential experiences in my life.

Every summer from the time I was 11 years old, I went away to camp for an entire month. Camp was my first love. If I thought it was remotely possible for my 25 year old self to return as a counselor (again) this summer, I would not even blink at the chance. I would dive at it. I would drive 1,000 miles and attempt to break the land speed record to make it. But, everyone has to grow up sooner or later, right?
Rachel, me and Christen July 2004

The above picture is just one of the many from my summers at camp. This picture is me at 16 with my tribe sponsors. If someone ever reads this post and really wants to know about the tribe thing, I promise to give you enough details you'll wish you never asked. For the sake of semi-brevity, I will say they were one of the camp team counselor leaders. We were the blue team. I am a Pawnee. The green team, which my little sister was sorted into, are the Shawnees. 

One of the best experiences of my life, by far, was participating in something called War Canoe. I was a Pawnee War Canoer (PWC). It is a tremendous honor to make war canoe. Every year girls over the age of 11 that weigh over 100 pounds try out for a maximum of 16 spots per tribe's war canoe. With 180 campers on camp, it's a big deal to be one of the few selected. 

Each boat holds ten girls. The others are alternates. It's an honor to be an alternate, its a massive deal to be in the boat. I was 13 the first summer I tried out not actually expecting to make it. Most people don't. The older campers are 14 - 16, and almost always take the majority of those slots. Any given year there aren't actually 16 spots open. If you've been on war canoe once before, you'll be in it again unless you do something crazy like quit. Don't get me started on that.... 

Where was I? Oh, 13 and trying out for the first time. My first time in the boat I fell out and nearly tumped the entire boat of 9 other people. I was pretty bad. I don't know what happened, but one of those sponsors (counselor tribe leader people - not the ones in the picture above) decided I might make a good war canoer some day. I made alternate at 13. I was beyond thrilled. I bawled when they told me I made the team. I was shocked, thrilled, so very excited, and scared to death. 

The following summer I was told that I would try out for stern with two other people. For people who don't know anything about boats, the stern is the back of the boat. The stern in war canoe calls strokes, steers, and is the leader. One of the girls I was to try out against was another 14 year old who was just about perfect in everything and the other was the current Chieftain (highest camper office) of our tribe. I  never dreamed I had a shot. Especially that summer. Lauren (the current Chieftain) was a shoe in. She was smart, talented, a leader, knew PWC in and out, and had been in the boat three years prior to that. Susan, the other 14 year old, had been in PWC since 12 (another crazy accomplishment) and was bow (another leader in War Canoe and is important because they are the front of the boat without a partner) her first year and on first bar her second. She was the natural second choice. I was a distant, nervous, and unabashedly hopeful third candidate. 

That was all until Bekah and Katie, the current sponsors, gave me the job. I hadn't been in the boat before, I'd definitely never lead a team like that, and suddenly, an entire group of girls was looking to me to lead our team to win our 14th straight race over the Shawnees. The three summers I had the honor of being Pawnee War Canoe's stern, were some of the best, most exciting, most nerve wracking, humbling, educational, and important experiences of my young life. 

Me, sterning summer 2002

PWC practice summer 2002
After the final race my last summer as a camper in 2004. We won. 

Part of me thinks I should say something about having outgrown the lessons war canoe taught me about being a leader, hard work, how to be a team player, and what it means to want something with every ounce of your body. I can't though. I think that much is obvious. 

So, like any good team, we had our mottos, our War Canoe secrets. The Shawnee War Canoers had theirs that were sacred. We had ours; the most important of which was DDD. 

Dedication. Determination. Desire. 

I am dedicated. I am determined. I have the desire. With those three things I can tackle any obstacle. I can fight any battle. I can keep going when everything around me feels like it's crumbling beneath me. Those three words became a life affirming mantra that I now have tattooed on my left shoulder. I'll have to have someone take a picture of it so you can see it... I really love it. 

When it came time to decide a blog title I didn't want something I'd have to change or reevaluate in a few months. Grad school won't last forever according to my father, and I'm not a mom, I'm not married, I don't cook amazing recipes everyday (though I do occascionally and will totally share the awesome with you)...

 DDD is one of the few things that has been a present, reassuring force in my life for over the last ten years. It was just right. When I am in doubt, dedication, determination, desire. DDD. Those three words calm me down, give me a center of gravity to focus on, and give me a place to start moving forward or to keep treading water. 

So, that's how this came to be


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