At Camp Moss Hollow, great butterflies emerge from tiny caterpillars


Pride Rock, an area near Camp Moss Hollow's dining hall that attracts butterflies, a tiger swallowtail, in Fauquier County, Va. (John Kelly/THE WASHINGTON POST)
John Kelly
Columnist July 25, 2012

This was the summer of the butterflies. Dramatic yellow and black tiger swallowtails. Iridescent spicebush swallowtails. Orangey-black spangled fritillaries. The beautiful insects were in abundance when I visited Camp Moss Hollow.

They fluttered confetti-like among the foliage that lines the gravel road to the camp’s entrance, welcoming visitors like nature’s own ticker tape parade. They sat on the road itself, patiently pivoting their delicate wings up and down between 90 degrees and 180 degrees.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

They were most noticeable on the butterfly bushes of Pride Rock. That’s a recent addition to the camp, a flat, open nicely landscaped area on a hill next to the dining hall. There are benches, a fountain — and all those butterflies.

The name Pride Rock echoes Disney’s “The Lion King,” but it has more than one meaning, the camp’s director, Hope Asterilla, told me. It’s a place to gather — like a pride of lions — and it’s a place to be proud of. And it’s a reminder that counselors are proud of each camper’s achievements.

This is the last column of this year’s campaign to raise money for Moss Hollow, a camp that serves at-risk children from the Washington area. When you donate you will be supporting a program that takes children between the ages of 7 and 14 out of hot, concrete canyons and plunks them down on 400 cool, green acres of Fauquier County hillside.

You will help ensure that more city kids will encounter deer, snakes, owls, the occasional bear and, of course, butterflies.

When I saw the profusion of colorful butterflies at Moss Hollow, I was reminded of a song I heard at Simon Elementary School in Southeast Washington. I heard it at camp, too, but it had a special resonance in the walls of that old school. A little girl was getting checked out by a doctor, courtesy of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, which has partnered for over a decade with Simon and each year sends students to Moss Hollow. Her pre-camp physical complete, her way to Moss Hollow clear, the girl started singing a song she’d learned the previous summer:

Once I was a caterpillar/Now I am a butterfly/Been transformed/Been reborn/Moss Hollow is the reason why.

There comes a time in life when you have to make a change/Moss Hollow made a difference to me, and in you it will do the same.

Childhood is a chrysalis, formative but delicate. With your help, great butterflies can emerge from tiny caterpillars.

So far we’ve raised $324,507.66. Our goal by Friday is $500,000. I know from past experience that many of our contributions come in during the campaign’s final days. We’ll continue to count donations into next week. I’ll announce the final tally the following week.

To donate, go to washingtonpost.com/camp. Click where it says “Give Now,” and designate “Send a Kid to Camp” in the gift information. Or mail a check payable to “Send a Kid to Camp” to Send a Kid to Camp, P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237.

If you’ve been meaning to give, now’s the time, not least because we have an anonymous donor who is matching last-minute donations, up to a total of $100,000. Our friends at Clyde’s are again offering gift certificates to their family of restaurants. Donate $150 to $249 to Moss Hollow and receive a $25 coupon for Clyde’s, the Hamilton, the Tombs or the Old Ebbitt Grill. Donate $250 or more and get a $50 coupon. (Certificates will be mailed in early September.)

Thank you.

Time for lunch

There is an additional way to support the camp. On Aug. 11, the Washington Post Conference Center (a large, handsome space off our lobby) will be the setting for a Legacy Luncheon and Awards Program celebrating Moss Hollow.

The cost of the luncheon is $75. For more information, visit www.familymattersdc.org or call Rachel Linge at 202-289-1510, ext. 1186.

A touch of class

Is your Washington area high school having a reunion? Send me the details, and I’ll print them here. E-mail the school’s name, the class year, the date of the reunion and contact information to kellyj@washpost.com. Be sure to put “Reunion” in the subject heading.

I’ll take the high road . . .

And with that I’m heading off on vacation, trading this insufferably hot summer in Washington for the cool of Scotland. I hear it’s rainy there, but give me an honest rain over the uncomfortable mugginess of a Washington summer any day. If I manage to pace myself in the whisky distilleries we visit, I should be back in this space Aug. 6.

To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.
com/johnkelly.

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