Open Letter To My Campers
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Open Letter To My Campers

It’s been an honor to watch you grow up

2021
Open Letter To My Campers
Alexandra Alimaras

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”

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