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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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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5 Songs to Add to Your Playlist This Month

Spring into finals week (and the summer) by "cleaning up" your playlist

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Here are some fun, fresh new tracks to check out as you finish out the rest of the school year and help you get out of your "music comfort zone!"

“Patience” by Tame Impala 

Genre: Electronic/Alternative

Tame Impala FINALLY released new music (!!), and this track is absolutely stunning. With frontrunner Kevin Parker staying on brand with the band's psychedelic, seemingly ethereal style, it sounds like a combination of 70s soft rock and waves of modern-day electronica, with Parker's voice drifting in and out in a kind of otherworldly, mellowed-out manner.

“Harmony Hall” by Vampire Weekend 

Genre: Alternative/Indie Pop

Vampire Weekend is also releasing an album, entitled "Father of the Bride", on May 3rd. From the looks of it, this track relates to the theme of marriage/weddings present in the album's title, and it is a fun, upbeat song that I have been listening to a lot in the morning as I'm getting ready for class! Ezra Koenig's voice is so unique and can cover a broad range, and I highly recommend listening to some of the band's other work as well ("Step" from their 2013 release "Modern Vampires of the City" is one of my all-time favorite songs!).

“Ready to Let Go” by Cage the Elephant 

Genre: Alternative/Alternative Rock

So many great artists are (finally) releasing new albums this year, and Cage the Elephant falls into this category. This track is an absolute banger and doesn't stray much from the band's style in that it includes a lot of loud guitar and dynamic vocals. Like Vampire Weekend, Cage the Elephant has been around since the early 2000s, and I highly recommend checking out some of their earlier work as well (big fan of their most recent album, actually!)

“Apple Orchard” by Beach House 

Genre: Indie/Electronic

Beach House is one of my favorite bands of all time, as I find a kind of an ethereal, beautiful sadness in the dreamy style of instrumentalist Alex Scally and lucid vocals of singer Victoria Legrand. This track is from their 2006 self-titled debut and is probably one of my favorite songs they've ever released. The lyrics are poetic and perfect for the post-finals enjoyment of spring weather, in that they preach relaxation and restfulness, and the song's electronic rhythms echo the essence of spring as well. If you like this song, then I highly recommend checking out the band's other albums as well (Depression Cherry is one of my favorite albums of all time).

“April Come She Will” by Simon & Garfunkel 

Genre: 60s Pop

No spring playlist is complete without a little Simon & Garfunkel! This song is a classic, its timeless, poetic lyrics capturing the epitome of the coming of spring and all its glory. In fact, I consider the entire album (entitled Sound of Silence) to be perfect for the pleasantness and feelings of renewal/natural revitalization associated with the coming months, so be sure to give it a listen if you haven't heard it before!

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