This I Believe

Amanda - Arlington, Virginia
Entered on September 20, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

This I Believe

Camp Cayuga: Memories that last a lifetime. I’m not sure whether or not they last that long, since I am only sixteen years old, but I am sure that my seven summers there provided me with some of the best times that I will ever have. When I was eight years old, I did not understand why my parents were sending me to Honesdale, Pennsylvania for the summer, but within five minutes, I never wanted to leave. I was living any child’s dream: a two month sleepover with your eight closest friends, a daily trip to the candy store, a various array of over fifty activities offered every day, and best of all- no parents!

Sleep away camp improved my independence but more importantly allowed me to be myself. I think it’s essential for people to be able to let go sometimes and take a break from their life’s norms. I always looked forward to those two months of care free, good times in which I could run, play, dance, and sing, knowing that I wouldn’t be judged and that nothing I did would end up on any sort of “permanent record.”

My first year living on the camp’s side for the teenagers, my friends and I all thought that we were superior to others because of all of the new freedoms we were given. We could choose our own schedules, stay out later, win daily trips into the nearby town. Before the parents came to visit each month, everyone had to do a major clean-up in which everything was taken out of the cabin and then put back in an organized manner. The first cabin to do this and pass inspection won a trip into town. Of course, my friends and I worked extremely hard all day in order to win this privilege.

The day after the parents came, we got to leave camp for the day and go to the mall. At the mall, we decided that we should do a raid on the boy’s cabin that all of our friends were in. We didn’t want to do the usual toilet paper, shaving cream, and silly string raid. We wanted this raid to go down in Cayuga history. This was when we decided to do a “Christmas Raid.” We went to the dollar store and bought Christmas decorations and small gifts for each boy in the cabin.

That night when we returned to camp, we set our alarms and dressed in black. We woke up at 3:00 AM to do the raid. We snuck out without making a sound and our counselors didn’t even wake up. We returned to our cabin afterwards and went to sleep. In the morning, the boys were surprised to find their cabin decorated. The camp’s staff thought that our idea was so creative that they didn’t even make us clean it up! This didn’t make the boys too happy.

While I spent my summers at camp having fun, I never stopped to think of how this time away from home would prepare me for the future. As some of my friends began to leave for college this past summer, they expressed how they were worried about being homesick. I don’t think that I will have that problem because from a young age, I have spent time away from my home and friends and parents for an extended amount of time. I’ve spent my last two summers away from camp and neither of those summers were better than any summer spent there. I believe that everyone should enjoy a summer at sleep away camp.