My first summer in the Canyon was over 20 years ago. With my suitcase packed for two weeks (I had not yet learned about trunks), my mom and I bounced through the river on our first drive to Singing Hills. I’d never been away from home for longer than a slumber party, but I took a deep breath of courage and kissed my mom goodbye on the front porch of Cabin 3, years before it was affectionately known as Tri-Love. I still remember returning to my bunk, not knowing a soul, and looking nervously out the window. Had I just made a huge mistake?

I don’t remember too much about that summer, except that I wasn’t in any of the pictures I took, which were mostly of scenery anyway, I had a counselor I really loved named Dena, and the blonde, curly-haired Houstonite who bunked above me named Elizabeth Lodowski was the most interesting person I’d ever met. She did crazy things like pick up stray turtles and wear mismatching shorts and shirts. I loved it. This was the kind of girl I wanted to be friends with, only I didn’t know anyone like that back home in Corpus Christi. Not yet.

And I never got homesick. My first night back at home in my own bed, I actually missed my bunk, my counselors, and all of my camp friends. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d found a new place to call home. So I went back. Summer after summer, I returned home, where I met more of those rare gems like Elizabeth Lodowski—some from my own town. The best friends of my lifetime, including my husband, have all found their home in the Canyon. We are spread across the country and the world, but this little geological wonder somehow still houses our hearts. We are all connected because we call the same place home.

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