Four charms, all silver, petite, and delicate, dangle from my neck.
I received my first and most treasured charm seven years ago. A large painting that resembles the charm hangs on my wall among many photographs of family and friends.
Links in the chain
When I was ten years old, I was given the opportunity to attend summer camp in the West Virginia mountains.
I knew very little about camp and was reluctant to leave the comfort of my family to venture into the unkown.
With a lump in my throat, I anxiously rode the barge—the last stop before being at camp on my own— across the Greenbrier River.
When I arrived at camp, I quickly noticed a unity among the veteran campers as they greeted the hesitant rookies. One thing I noticed in particular was that they all wore the same silver pendant: a tiny engraved tree.
I learned that the “Tree of Life” was worn by all “Ghany” girls.
I had seen the Tree of Life in a painting in elementary school but never gave it a second thought. The older campers explained to me that the adopted symbol was meant to connect all the girls and immortalize the friendships made at camp. The engraving of each tree branch is different, just like each girl.
I fell in love with Camp Alleghany that summer and vowed to return every year thereafter.
I proudly wear the pendant which represents the enduring friendships I’ve made over the years. My summer girls are my best friends, intertwined forever by this once mundane symbol.
I am mesmerized by the colorful, swirling branches that spill onto the canvas that hangs on my bedroom wall. The branches soothe me. They remind me of the most cherished place of my youth and my beloved summer home.
–Holly O’Hare, Camper, Current Counselor