I don’t know if you all are familiar with the stereotype of a “camp person” – someone who is obsessed with the outdoors, fearless facing spiders, constantly flannel and Birkenstock clad, shameless when playing with children, way too comfortable going multiple days with out showering, and most importantly: NEVER STOPS TALKING ABOUT IT – but this stereotype fits me (and most of my best friends) perfectly. I have been going to camp since I was 8 years old. When I was younger, camp was a fun week out of my year that I looked forward to every summer. Now it has become my way of life – and had an astounding impact on my mental, emotional, and social wellness.
Six of the nine girls from my first cabin ever are now on staff with me. As you can imagine, most of the people at camp have gotten pretty tight growing up together like that. New people come to camp every year too, which keeps us growing and learning and evolving. Having a group of friends who I was that comfortable around was utterly invaluable growing up, especially in those awkward preteen years. An environment like that let’s you feel comfortable being yourself, and it shaped the way my morals and values developed. I learned to see the world the way it could be, and as I moved up the ranks at camp and eventually became a counselor, I learned how I could be a part of making the camp world a reality. The hardest part about having this utopia at camp, is the fact that I only get to spend a fraction of the year there. Long dark winters are spent counting down the days until I can be reunited with my absolute favorite people in the best place on earth. Fortunately, missing camp like that furthers the drive to bring the light of summer into the real world.
Camp showed me my strengths and helped me develop them to the point where I’ve become confident enough to actually call them strengths. Finding my own confidence, empathy, and inspiration through camp gave me the passion to help others find the same light, and has motivated me to spend every summer giving my all to help bring kids of all ages to that point. The more I give to camp, (and I give plenty – time, energy, heart) the more I get back, and the more I get back the more I want to give. I get really pumped up just thinking about how crazy that symbiotic relationship is, and how it applies to life outside of camp too. What you give is what you get.
College has reminded me of camp in a lot of ways and I love it. Being in an LLC especially has brought me the same sense of community that I love about camp. Maybe it’s an only child thing, but I can’t get over how fun it is living with other people (whether it be in cabins or in dorms). Similarly to camp, everyone here is pretty driven and motivated, and working towards common goals. Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve felt like I’m on the right path in life, and I know the months until camp next summer will pass much more quickly than they ever have before.
Written by Lily Sall, WLLC 2015-2016