Hello! It’s already WEEK 30 (or 21 weeks ’til TAF!) Here’s Tiffany with a lovely essay on what makes TAF unique, yet translatable to all mankind:
I have a friend whose dad is a priest, and she’s super into everything church-related. For the past few years, I’ve heard about the summer camps, the random weekend events during the year, and the close friends she’s made from all of these things. One of the most recent events that she attended was an out-of-state basketball tournament she’s been going to for a few years. She was super excited for it and talked about non-stop the week leading up to it, but I’d heard it all before so I didn’t really think all that much about it. When I saw her the following Monday in class, I asked how it was. She said it was good, but then got a nostalgic look in her eyes, and started talking about how she missed it so much and felt like she just didn’t want to do anything when she got back home.
This really kind of hit me because it reminded me of post-TAF depression, or TAF blues. I remember getting a handout my first year during small group, and I remember exchanging raised-eyebrow looks with a fellow newbie in the group. All the “symptoms” and everything just sounded so silly. But in all honesty, once I experienced post-TAF that first year, I realized how much truth was in that little half-sheet of paper. There are just moments where you pause whatever you’re doing and zone out for a little while, just reminiscing on those great memories, and you don’t really feel like doing anything else. It sounded just like what my friend had mentioned, and it got me thinking. The more I thought, the more parallels I found between my friend’s experiences and my own TAF experiences. We’ve both made incredible interstate friendships, learned enlightening things, and gained valuable experiences. I suppose this would hopefully apply to any camp, but it’s like, the level of the impact. I went to a music camp the same summer I started going to TAF, and believe me, there was definitely a difference. I think a lot of where you can see the impact is with post-event communication; how close you get to the people you meet. I’ll admit, I have a habit of predominantly texting TAFers over school friends. My friend’s inbox also tends to be mostly camp/church friends. She’s more prone to tell her camp friends confidential things, and as am I. It’s not that kids at our school are undependable cold jerks, it’s just that friends we’ve made at camp just tend to be easier to talk to, even if we barely ever get to see them.
A lot the topics TAF related all relate to one thing- TAFlove. How singularly unique it is, how touching, how amazing it is. But I’ll admit, all these parallels with my friend’s experiences made me start to wonder if TAFlove really is unique. Yes, TAFlove is undeniably incredible, but is it one-of-a-kind? Are we the only ones that experience, absorb, and eventually try to spread this kind of love?
A few weeks ago, my school celebrated diversity week. We had culture-themed lunches, special “facts of the day” over the PA system, and most importantly, a diversity assembly. It was a motley assortment of performances, from Native American chants to poems in different languages, but one of the things that stood out most to me was a little speech one guy made. He pointed out things like being one of the school’s two National Award winners, one of two African Americans on the school leadership board; things that he was part of, but others were too. He was never the only one that did the things he did, and wasn’t “unique” because of the individual things he did. But rather, he was diverse because he had the combination of all the things he did. He pointed out that although there are other people doing what he was doing, there was no one else in the world that had his exact grouping of activities and accomplishments. And he was therefore, unique.
I think that’s the same concept with TAF and TAFlove. There are other people, places, things, that set out to do things the way TAF does, that strive to make the world a better place like TAF does, and that love like TAF does. But what makes TAF and TAFlove unique are all the little things that it’s made up of, what defines it. It’s the people, the campus, the program itself, the love, the things TAF has accomplished, the things TAFers have accomplished, the people TAF has influenced, the people those people went on to influence, the lives impacted, and just everything TAF is made of up. On their own, these things may not be that unique, but when everything is combined together, TAF and TAFlove are undeniably special and one-of-a-kind.
So in the end, I realized TAF is just an incredible thing. There may be other programs and camps that are incredibly similar to TAF, that reach for the same goals, create the same kind of relationships, and are just as wonderful, but that doesn’t make TAF any less unique or special. It is still amazing, inspirational, impactful, unconditional, unforgettable. It’s just TAF.
<3 Love you guys, Tiffany(: