'tʃɪk.ɪn - fren(d)'
noun: Chicken Friend
1. A Chicken Friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg, even though they know you are slightly cracked. You both help each other to stay sunny side up. Your strength, your determination and your courage together is egg-ceptional. This type of friendship is pretty much impossible to beat.
The parent trap is probably ONE of my FAVOURITE films. I think that’s how I started liking Oreo's. Heath would understand you see, because, well, we are each other’s twin! We met at camp and we come from different worlds. I happened to be the English twin, and...well she wasn’t American twin but our own South African one! We met at camp and bonded over our love for the Lion King. She also taught me this weird dance move. Think of a zebra crossed with an antelope....anyway that was in 2012, my first year at camp and hers too. We said goodbye like everyone does at the end of the summer; tearful and hopeful at the same time, having shared such an intense and meaningful experience. I always hoped we would meet again, someday. Each year I became less hopeful. I returned to Hawkeye each of the next two years and met more incredible people, but no one quite fitted being my twin as well as she did.
...and then in February of 2017 it happened, Heath was finally able to return to camp. When Garrett and Heath gave me the good news I couldn’t quite believe it. It had been 5 years, 5 YEARS since I last saw her. I was so thrilled. We were calling weekly, even when my phone bill was over too many dollars, we were both just extremely excited about seeing each other...old friends reuniting.
Actually, I knew I felt nervous and slightly concerned about this. Both of us did. We didn’t admit this to each other, at the time. 5 years is a long time and a lot had changed since 2012, for both of us. I felt different to who I was 5 years ago and, as I found out later, so did she. We weren't the same people anymore, could we still be those old friends from our past? Were the experiences we had made at camp enough?
Flash forward four months...
When Heath came off the bus, it all came flooding back; being new to camp in 2012, learning the rules and developing ourselves as group leaders as we went along. Anyone that has been a counsellor for one of the oldest groups knows that looking after 16 year-olds is tough work! We struggled together and succeeded together. That was it! That's what 'chicken' friendship is all about. Camp gave us a place to be there for one another. Now, that I think about it, I think that’s why we are still friends to this very day. It isn’t all about the moments you create, its about the struggles you face and the people standing beside you. In so many ways this is what Camp Hawkeye is all about; about going outside of your comfort zone, striving for growth, and struggling to achieve alongside your camper or counselor peers. For me, whilst I was at camp, that was Heath. She was my co-counsellor and she always had my back.
If you haven’t met Heath yet, I could go on and on about how great and human she is. She has the hugest heart, I mean she volunteered to look after the chickens...and more than that she volunteered to be the "Head of the Chicken Committee" (aka my chicken friend)!! But seriously, there is not one person on camp that dislikes her. You can’t! She cares for everyone and is always ready to listen. She truly believes in telling the truth and keeping your mind positive. She isn’t here to please anyone, she is very true to herself and to you. She makes mistakes, and knows you will too – but that’s okay. She has one of the calmest voices I’ve ever heard and she always will see the better side of you. She has her flaws too of course – but we all do. If you do meet her make sure she’s slept well and has had something to eat and then you’ll be fine.
It’s weird how being back at camp together felt like nothing had changed. Yes, we were different to our 19 year old selves. Yes, we were more mature. But we were also still the excited individuals who tried to manage Bunk 5. Each activity we did together this year was like we had never left camp. I would still be extremely bossy and want things done in a certain way. Heath would try and make me a bit calmer, but understood I just wanted us to do well. It was great bringing back some of the old dances we knew and loved. She would get up with me, stand by my side - no matter what - even if it meant singing the bubble-gum song for the 10th time that day. We would join each other in everything, because I believe that we both "get" camp. We made each other better, like twins you see.
It’s funny looking back at this. When I was at camp in 2012, there were two campers who were inseparable. They would never leave each other’s sight. They would always stick up for each other - no matter what. But this wasn’t any ordinary friendship. They both lived completely different lives, they both had very unique journeys and struggles. Both came from very different family, social, and economic backgrounds. I look at them now and I look at my friendship with Heath. I know these friendships are not possible anywhere else.
Camp does that to you! You spend every day with a group of people you don’t know. You not only make memories together, but you are there for one another when times get tough. You will find someone who wants to listen to any random thing you want to say. Camp made me realise I can have make a friend from anywhere. We don't just make friends with people because of their knowledge, or where they are from, or similar physical traits. Hawkeye breaks down barriers that divide us as humans and lets us form friendships.
These friendships, at camp, are so valuable and long lasting. I have known people for 7 years at school but it’s nothing like the friends I have at camp. Or the friendships I see. The journey you have at camp is always shared, whether it be with someone you know, someone new in the community. Each journey is so unique, the experiences gained are so many. Camp finds that raw version of you, the 'youness' in ;you'. It challenges you and it helps you to succeed. Camp will help you find your twin. That twin who you can share 12 donuts with in one go (yes this is true and we could not move for days). You’ll always find special individuals at Hawkeye, someone you are guaranteed to get along with. Who knows, soon they may be your twin, like my Chicken Friend, Heath.