Tucked away in the corner of his suitcase was a little transparent plastic container with a solid black top. It was mixed in among all the things a leader needs at camp. It wasn’t obvious or always in sight, but when he brought it out, it suddenly took on a tremendous amount of meaning.
It was full of friendship bracelets.
When Arthur Assuncao, CT 1, handed you a colorful little piece of woven string, you knew at that moment that you had made a connection that went past the work of being a leader or beyond the fun of being a camper. He didn’t have to say much when he handed it to you because not much needed to be said. It was a moment that he knew mattered because Arthur understood that it was the little things that mean the most to Takodians. He almost always offered it up with a smile and a chance to mutually appreciate each other.
In his early twenties and working hard to figure out his place in the world, Arthur left a lasting impact on those who knew him. He was an individual who was full of artistic talent, a love of music and motion, a willingness to do whatever was needed to keep the kids happy, and an uncanny ability to see past the people we’re trying to be to appreciate the person that we already are.
I was lucky enough to work with Arthur as his co-leader during Session 2 of 2022. It was a short session due to an outbreak of COVID the week before and the two of us promised each other that we would make sure our campers got the full two-week experience in just seven days. Shortly after introducing himself to the kids using his beautiful Brazilian accent, “Arr-tour” was misheard by one of the boys as “R2” and, well, it just stuck. Being almost twice his age, the kids called me Gramps. So, off we went, full steam ahead, laughing about our newfound nicknames. Both in and out of the cabin, Arthur was calm, rational, caring, and fun. He could be serious when it mattered and silly when we needed it the most. The kids absolutely adored him and, to be honest, so did I. Arthur was one of those kind and gentle souls who was a deep sea of thoughts and feelings that he was all too willing to share. He chose his words carefully, regardless of the language he was using, and spoke with an eloquent intention that made you focus and pay attention.
With each passing hour, Arthur seemed to settle in, find his voice, and know that he was in a safe place of acceptance and support. We had a blast dressing up as Vikings while performing a skit around the campfire, dancing to music in the cabin, helping the kids with cabin inspection, singing songs after a meal, creating all sorts of wonderful things in Hobby Nook, and playing a wild game of “Capture the Flag” down at the Waterfront. One of my favorite memories is when he let the kids dress him up for “Mario Kart” so he could race at top speed around the Dining Hall. I can’t remember what place he came in or what award he won. All I can remember is how much fun we had with “R2” and how the kids thought he was simply the greatest. And it’s true. He was.
We also talked quite a bit about his life in Brazil, including his family – especially his twin sister who he adored above all others – and the career in graphic design for advertising that he hoped to develop in the coming years. We chatted about the kids under our care, what it was like to be a cabin leader, the stories behind his tattoos, and how all of this wrapped into his world.
For Arthur was a man of love and light. He will be missed. He will be remembered. He will shine on.
In order to honor the man we’ve lost and see to it that his memory remains very much alive, let’s follow Arthur’s example and take a moment sometime in the near future to give a proverbial bracelet to someone who has made a difference in our lives. Let’s look them in the eye, say thank you, and share a smile and a handshake or a hug. Let’s all pay forward the tranquility that our friend sought across the continents and spread throughout our Camp.
Rest well, R2, for now the day is over and your shadows steal across the sky.