Open Letter To My Campers

Open Letter To My Campers

It’s been an honor to watch you grow up
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To My Dear Summer Children,

By the time you read this you’ll be far away from the little cabin in the woods where we met. You might be at school with your friends or you may have a job of your own, but wherever you are, I know you aren’t wildly running around one of the most magical places in the world: camp.

Sometimes, those who haven't gone to camp can't imagine how a large plot of land with old cabins and cafeteria food is magical. They don’t get the appeal, inside jokes or the remember whens. But you are like me: you have gone to camp, and you understand it’s magic. You understand how time stops at camp. Nothing outside of the gates of camp matters, and though you think you’re having fun and playing games, you’re really growing, learning about yourself and other people. But then you blink -- and summer is over.

The bonds formed at sleep away camp is extremely special. You make life long friends, friends who love you for you. They have seen you at your worst, your ugliest and somehow they still love you. Whether you know it now or not, they have and they will affect your life in more ways than you can even imagine. I’ve realized this so much as I’ve gotten older.

Then, there’s the bond you and I share; camp counselors and campers form one of the most unique relationships. Sometimes, we joked around and you called me mom, but the truth is, for nine weeks you were like my children. My job was to make sure you were safe, and your job was to have fun. I laughed with you, I cried with you, and even though you drove me so crazy, I could never stay mad at you. Saying goodbye to you and returning you to your real mom at the end of the summer was hard to do.

The truth is, coming home from camp sucks. No matter how old you are, it never gets easier. When I was a camper leaving camp meant saying goodbye to my friends. Now, as a counselor, it means letting go of you and watching you leave the magic of camp to go back to what we all dread, real life. Although we don’t spend every waking minute of the day together anymore, I hope you know I think of you all the time.

Like a real mother, I want the best for you and I worry about you. I’ve watched you laugh at a joke until you couldn’t breathe. I’ve seen you capsize a boat and get frustrated, and I was proud of you when you shook it off. Through it all, I wished that you could stay young forever. I wished that you could forever live in the magical, simple, hysterically crazy world that is camp. Because camp is where you see the good in everyone, everyone genuinely wants the best for each other. And while that can never realistically happen, wishing you would be forever young is in some ways selfish of me. With age comes new opportunities, new experiences, and new fun. I can’t wait to watch you make the most of your life.

No matter where life takes, you, what job you pursue, or how you choose to live your life; I hope you know that I will always love you. Because I was your summer mom, and that’s what us moms do, we love you, kids. And just in case, we don’t cross paths again in the future, remember these life keys.

1. Don’t grow up too fast –- you aren’t missing out on anything. In fact, when you’re my age, you’ll wish you were still 13.

2. Be true to yourself.

Don’t spend time with people who don’t treat you properly or make you feel bad about yourself.

3. Being popular is so overrated.

4. So is being the “it girl.”

5. You’re someone’s role model, whether you realize it or not.

6. Be someone your younger self would look up to and your future self would be proud of.

7. Be nice -- it’s not hard to do, and there’s a lot to be said for being a nice person.

8. Keep in touch with your camp friends, and make an effort to see them at least once a year.

No matter how far they are, they will always be your family.

Thank you for being such a big part of some of my greatest summer memories. Believe it or not, you changed my life. You forced me to grow up, but let me be a kid at the same time. Thank you for teasing me, asking me super personal and unnecessary questions that I would never answer, and for making every single day an unpredictable wild adventure. It’s been an honor to watch you grow up and I can’t wait to watch you live the rest of your life.

Love always,
“Mom”

Cover Image Credit: Alexandra Alimaras

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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