I’m definitely going! | Maya's Gifts

I’m definitely going!

Maya was truly blessed to have several families.  Aside from our family, she had strong connections in different circles.  One of the most impressive and supportive ones was that of the Rowe Camp.  At this moment, many of Maya’s peers are at camp, at “Senior High Camp,” for three weeks.  Yes, even though they are 18 years old, they are still campers.  It is that kind of environment.  Maya grew up with her friends there.  Since her passing, she inspired a few friends and acquaintances to go.

When people would ask me “what was Rowe’s specialty?” I would respond that it was a magical and safe place to explore who you are.  Deep conversations, stretching the imagination, spiritual reflecting, lasting, honest, true friendships and love all would happen at Rowe.  And yes, much fun, too.

Though I didn’t make a journal entry about the seeds of how Maya’s Rowe experience started, I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I am actually sitting in the corner of my study, at the very computer where it all happened.  It was the winter of 2008.  Maya was eight years old.  I was on the website of Rowe Camp and Conference Center, looking at the options for camp for Adin, her brother who is four years older.  Here is how the conversation went when she came into the room:

Maya:   What chya doing?

Me:        I am checking out a sleep away camp for Adin.

Maya:   I’m going.

Me:        Maya, you’re too young to go.  You won’t even be nine next summer.  Eight year olds cannot go to sleepaway camp.

Maya:   Check it out, mom.

Lo and behold, I clicked and there was an option, called, “Young People Camp,” fondly known as “YPC.”

Maya:   Mom, I’m going.

Then I scrolled down on the page.  Photos of the camp experience were shown.  Then, the moment of truth.  There was a close-up of a young camper whose entire body was painted blue.  That was it.


There was no stopping her.  For one, whatever Adin could do, Maya could do.  She did not let age get in her way.  She also had such confidence and motivation.  Again, if she had her mind set on something, she would make it happen.  This was a blessing and in some areas, a curse.  The blessing of course was that she lived life fully.

I am touched to know that Maya spent many years at Rowe.  The friendships were true and deep.  I highly value the connection that I continue to have with the Rowe Community.  I am glad that I supported Maya in her knowing as it opened many doors for her.

Photos were from the summer of 2009


  • Elise, the journal entries you have shared, convey what a remarkable person Maya was, from so early on in her life. Her courage and an adventurousness that compelled her to venture to a far off and unknown place at 8! is remarkable. Your courage to give her this freedom is, to me, even more so. I am humbled by your generosity and bravery. Much love, Amy

    • Amy, I followed her lead. As a toddler, she’d scale walls, book cases, banisters, anything she could climb. Other parents would look at me in fear, or as if I was neglectful. I stayed close and trusted her. Maya truly lived life fully. Naturally, now I wonder about that. Love back, Elise

      • Painful to even imagine Maya burdened with the constraints of a rigid, controlling caregiver. You neglectful?!! Ha! You stayed close. The trustful bond is evident in the very warp and weft of Maya’s fully lived life. A tornado strikes. Wishing you peace

  • Rowe is an awesome place; I’ve heard of it for many years. One of so many gifts you gave Maya. I’m sure she is deeply missed there . . . but the riches she gained there still exist.

    Thinking of you with love.


  • I love this story and your description of Rowe. My son Max is there at Senior High Camp right now. It’s where he met Maya. He’s been part of that community for 5 years and it means so much to him. A blessing that Maya got to be part of that and had the gift of being in such an environment. Thank you Elise

    • Yes, Michelle,
      For the campers, it had been a deep gift. Then, they’d bring this knowledge to life outside. There are so few places in our culture that are safe to connect in meaningful ways. I am so glad that Maya and Max traveled through life a bit at Rowe. Thank you!

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