My first year of camp was probably the scariest and most fun week I had experienced as a nine year old. Over the course of the week, I met so many different people and did so many new things that I would have never even imagined doing before. I didn’t know anybody back in LaGrange who went zip-lining, butt-surfing, and night hiking in the woods at all, let alone in one week like me. I was away from my parents and got to decide for myself what I was going to do during the day. During that one short week I had some control of my life; I got to be myself, which was an exhilarating feeling. Year after year, I continued to go, each time learning and experiencing a little more; finding even more about myself and who I could ultimately be.
Going to camp opened so many doors. I met people of all ages, races, and backgrounds and instantly became friends with many of them, since we were all just kids going to camp. I was given the opportunities to try new things and get better at the activities I was already good at with the help of excellently trained staff who were dedicated to helping us have an enjoyable learning experience. But this past year I was given the next best thing – a spot in the counselor-in-training program. With some of my best friends, I got to participate in some team building and role-playing activities that would help us become better, more responsible counselors in the future. But it wasn’t the life guarding techniques or the survival skills that I found most important. It was what makes going to camp such an amazing experience for everyone: the campers, the parents, and even the staff. This was the “camp experience” that the counselors brought to life day after day, week after week, year after year. Helping us, teaching us, leading us, creating friendships with us, having fun with us, making sure we had a memorable time, and most of all giving us opportunities that we couldn’t find anywhere else.
I truly believe in the “camp experience.” I know that it has made me into the person I am today and prepared me for the various challenges I will have to face throughout my life. Although I might be on the other end of it now, I also believe that the camp experience isn’t only for the campers. I still look forward to the summer months and going to camp, to helping kids fulfill their dreams and expectations, to experience what camp is really all about.
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