Remember a few months back I wrote an article about my mom trying to plan a summer camp during the middle of a pandemic? Well if you can recall, there was a sh*t ton of things that needed to be thought through, a sh*t ton of things to get done, and a sh*t ton of worries to come along with it. Though I had full faith in my mom, camp, and everything that we were dreaming of, it was really hard for me to envision it all come together until I could see it with my own eyes.
As much as I was so thankful to have camp and that we were able to do it, by no means was I expecting it to be as amazing as it actually was. I was hopeful that it would be just what I needed it to be for the time, but quite frankly I had very low expectations, especially considering the high track record of all my past summers. But as soon as those first cars pulled onto the campgrounds and the smiles (I don't actually know if they were smiling because they were wearing masks but I can only imagine they were) that spread across those campers faces, I just knew that it was going to be special. Now that it's all said and done, I can confidently say that this summer was by far the most impactful if not, the most memorable summer I've ever had.
And you know what, it wasn't much different than a normal summer. Except that we were wearing masks of course. And that the campers couldn't have field trips, undernighters, go rock climbing/ziplining, or be able to hug and hold hands with everyone in sight. But none of it mattered. It was still camp. And I honestly think that it was more special that way. It just seemed that every one there was just so grateful to be there in a way that I've never seen before, especially for young children. I think it really put into perspective that at the core, camp is just all about relationships. You don't need all the bells and whistles to have a magical, meaningful, and fun summer.
This summer I was the counselor-in-training (CIT) coordinator, which meant I was responsible for leading and overseeing a group of twenty-three 8th-10th graders. Though there were some struggles throughout the summer, I would not have traded the experience for anything. I poured my heart and soul into this position and it definitely paid off. In only five weeks, I saw so much growth in them, and I would like to think that my push and desire to help them be their best selves allowed them to achieve that. There were many times where I felt down, but I credit the support of the admin team and most importantly my special sidekick (aka my mom) who had my back and believed in me when I couldn't believe in myself. I know this sounds crazy, but in this role, I truly found myself and I can't wait to learn and become even better next summer.
However, I think what made this summer absolutely life-changing for me were the friendships that I made. I came into this summer being one of the only new people joining the administrative team. I was intimidated, scared, and nervous that people wouldn't want to be my friend (especially because my mom is the director which could potentially put a target on my back). I'm sitting here laughing now because I couldn't have been more wrong. I can confidently say I have met some of the most welcoming, trusting, supportive, and amazing people this summer. In only five weeks, I have developed such strong friendships and found people who accept me for who I am and I could not ask for anything more than that especially right now. These are people who I know that will be in my life for forever and I'm so thankful to have them.
Those of you who know me may know that I'm not the most emotional person (or some of you may think I'm a complete basket case but that's for you to decide). I cannot cry at a sad movie if my life depends on it. But for the first time in my fifteen years of camp, I full-on SOBBED on the last day of camp. I'm not sure what exactly prompted me to feel this way, probably a combination of sadness that one of the best summers of my life was over and how much I'd miss everyone, nerves about going back to school, and mainly just the uncertainty to come. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it's really just that you have to take every thing day by day, minute by minute, second by second. And the fact that I am not sure what the future is going to look like right now completely terrifies me. Camp is something that has always been a stable, consistent, grounding for me--something I can always rely on--so it's scary to think that right now everything is so up in the air. However, the happiness and comfort I feel at camp is something that I am going to try to carry with me as I approach this new year. All I can do is count my blessings and stay hopeful, and those are big lessons that I attribute to camp in general, but also particularly this summer in general.
Summer 2020 has been truly unforgettable. Though it ended way too quickly, I could not be more thankful for all that it gave me. From this experience, I became more confident, a better leader, more humbled, and on top of that met the most incredible people. We took a big risk to run a summer camp in the middle of a global pandemic, but a risk that certainly paid off. I am already counting down the days until summer 2021 until we can do it all over again.