I remember my first trip to Nellie Huckins, the beloved camp I have attended for the past 11 summers. I sat in the back of my family’s dark green minivan, squished in between my overflowing trunk and my tone-deaf cousin Katie who was singing at the top of her lungs.
After two and a half hours of driving through windy New Hampshire back roads, we arrived. Slowly our car eased its way onto the unpaved parking lot. Off in the distance I noticed the camp director, Jody. She was walking from car to car with a clipboard, giving out cabin assignments. I looked over at Katie and she was still singing. Jody was two cars away and the last thing I wanted to be associated with was my tone-deaf-opera-volume-singing-cousin.
Katie continued to sing. The director was one car away. “Katie! Shhh!” I pleaded, but it was no use. Everyone in my family is as stubborn as a horse. I looked up as my mom unrolled the window. I put my head between my knees; I wanted to die. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse my mom chimed in. My entire family was singing. Great. I took a deep breath. I knew I’d have to face reality at some point, and well, we all know that you can’t pick and choose your family and oh my god—my mom wasn’t singing. It was a tiny little woman wearing LL Bean shorts with her shirt tucked up to her waist. It was Jody, the camp director.
11 years has passed since my near death experience. Over the years, Huckins has taught me the invaluable lesson of appreciation. When Jody walked up to my car window and heard Katie singing, ‘Herman the Worm’, it didn’t matter that she couldn’t sing. Jody was simply thankful that yet another camper loved camp, and thus she too began to sing.
As a counselor, camp has taught me to appreciate my campers and their bright smiles. I’ve found that there is nothing more rewarding that the genuine smile of a child. It has also taught me to accept all kinds of people, whether they are from Greenwich CT, or Freedom New Hampshire… I now know that every person has a story. Huckins girls are able to delight in the little gems of life, like the way the stars glow at night. We appreciate linking arms, sandy beds, ‘Huckins Hearts’…we even secretly love ‘camp feet’. Because of camp, I know that tears make laughter more joyous, and that sunny days are lovely because of the rain. Huckins has taught me that simplicity is beautiful, and even those who are tone deaf have remarkable voices.
I am no longer the little girl who puts her head between her knees; I now know it is important to hold my head high so that I may find the beauty in life. Appreciating the little things in life has made me stronger. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.