This I Believe

Benjamin - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: place, pleasure
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Feeling Accepted

I believe in summer camp. I believe in getting away for the summer so that I can find a sense of belonging among friends. For two months every year, I go to a place where reality is suspended. As school nears an end, I become excited to go to a place where I can stay up late talking to my friends, where I have no work to do and no desire for anything other than eating late night smores. Without the freedom of camp, I would not be comfortable with who I am.

In camp, I don’t hide who I am and what I believe in. High-fiving the kid in the next shower stall, sharing clothing, and playing air guitar cannot be hidden from my friends. I learn what makes each of us special, and I know that sounds corny, but living with these people for two months allows me to look deep down inside myself and my friends and see what kind of person I am and they are. I know that whenever I am feeling sad or depressed, my camp friends will always be there to listen. When I had broken up with a girl who I was going out with last summer, my camp friends were able to help me get through the pain I was feeling. At home, when I am feeling disheartened, I usually find myself calling one of my camp friends. They are always available to talk and they usually have good advice for me because they know how I truly feel. With all the craziness of the school year, no one has a chance to listen to how I am feeling. This trait of being able to express my feelings at camp has carried over into my everyday life, making it easier for me to articulate deeper emotions than just happy or sad. I do not think that I could share most of these feelings with my home friends because I fear the rejection and misunderstanding.

Two summers ago, when a counselor who was only nineteen passed away, my friends came together to lend a shoulder to anyone who needed it. It was very hard to grasp the concept of someone close to me dying, but my camp friends were always there to talk about it and make me feel better. This tragedy truly tested the reality that is summer camp. I felt comfort during this time and I was able to talk about how I felt with reassurance that it would all be fine in the end. Without this feeling of safety and belonging, I do not believe that I could truly express to other people the pain something of such velocity caused. Camp is a place where I feel at home and where I can cry as a young man and not feel insecure about it. In my life, these people are not just my camp friends, they are my brothers and sisters, and will remain so for life.