(#23) Appreciate: January 1

When you’ve been sealed into a cardboard box and transported by way of a forklift with someone, you know you’re going to be friends for life.

Croft and I met in 2006 on Pali Mountain, home to Pali Overnight Adventures, the greatest summer camp the world has ever known. It was my first summer and her second. She was one of the group leaders, a middle-management-level counselor. We hit it off.

In 2007, she was a head counselor, and I was one of her group leaders. Our friendship went from rad to unbreakable. And the pinnacle of it came at the end of the summer when the camp’s entertainment director planned his biggest, baddest shaving cream and water balloon fight of all time.

He gathered camp leadership, asked us to squeeze into cardboard boxes (and we obliged…), handed us hoards of water balloons and instructed us to stay still. When we heard a forklift start up its engines, we all exclaimed in panic. After oodles of “too fat for the forklift” jokes, our boxes lined the pallet, and we rumbled off to the camp’s main field.

The campers sat on wooden risers, having been told there was an imminent camp-wide meeting. We couldn’t see a thing, but we could hear them laughing, until music started. The theme song from Batman boomed over the loudspeakers, and the campers silenced.

The ride down was a bumpier than the pick-up, that’s for sure. Once securely on land, we waited for our signal and burst out of the boxes, unleashing a fury of water balloons on the unsuspecting campers.

Trashcans sporadically lined the field, filled to the brim with shaving cream. Before our balloons could find their targets, we were sprinting for trash cans, loading our arms with shaving cream to battle. The kids screamed and squealed in excitement, racing to enact their revenge on us and all the counselors.

20 minutes later, with shaving cream clogging every visible orifice, Croft caught my eye and nodded towards the camp lake. I nodded my understanding, and the two of us took off running. The other female group leaders and head counselors joined our escape, and we ran until we were in over our heads in the lake.

We spent the next hour having a “meeting” on the inflatable trampoline, alternating between letting the sun dry us and catapulting back into the cool water. No matter how many times we immersed ourselves, we still found shaving cream in our ears.

Croft is one of those rare, precious people in my life that I don’t see often, but that when I do, it’s effortless and hilarious and wrought with intelligent conversation. Today we brunched at the Argonaut until the bottomless mimosas ran out and even we ran out of politics to debate.

She’s leaving next week for Kyrgyzstan and Russia for a year and leaving me with new laugh lines. I’ll miss her something intense and fierce, but I know when I see her next, we’ll make new memories to add to the spectacular ones we already share.

2012: you’re starting our more than right, you’re starting out perfect.

Where: The Argonaut, 1433 H St. NE
What: the veggie omelet (not on the menu, but if they have it, it’s life-changing!), cheese grits (!!!) and bottomless mimosas ($9!)

Gettin' serious with the female leadership in 2007 about "International Boys Have Cooties Day." I'm in the red and white shorts, and Croft is tall and fist bumping beside me.

Camp leadership team in 2007. The four girls in a row on the bottom, from the left: Hula, me, Croft and Giggles - the unbeatable team.


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