5 Reasons Why I Keep Coming Back To Camp

5 Reasons Why I Keep Coming Back To Camp

"If only the world were more like a camp." - Daniel L. Dustin

If there's one thing that's truly stayed consistent in my life no matter how old I get, it's summer camp. For me in particular, 4-H camp. Every summer since I was eight years old I've gone to at least one summer camp, first as a camper and now as a counselor and staff member. Of course, when I tell people I'm going to camp I'm constantly met with "Aren't you a little old for that?" or "Really, that's what you wanna do with your summer?". Well, to all of those who are wondering, let me tell you exactly why I still go to camp.

1. To escape the stress of the real world

While you're away at camp it's like you're in your own little bubble and the rest of the world doesn't exist. While I'm at camp I'm not worried about politics, my job or my email, I'm just at camp.

2. To have fun

Believe it or not, even at 21, camp is a freakin' blast! I can't tell you a time when I laugh louder or smile more than I do while I'm there.

3. To gain valuable life skills

Teamwork, public speaking, critical thinking, and self-confidence are just a few of the things I've learned at camp over the years. Not to mention I know how to clean up puke and hello, future parenting necessities.

4. To build lasting friendships

A lot of my closest friends come from summer camp, whether we were campers together or staff. We can go weeks, months, or sometimes even years without seeing one another but that doesn't change a thing. Honestly, I'd be lost without them.

5. To help mold future leaders

If I had to pick just one reason why I come back to camp year after year, it would be this. I can only hope to have a fraction of an impact on my campers that my counselors did on me.

While it may be hard for some people to understand why I keep coming back to camp summer after summer, for me, it's something I don't even have to think about. Of course, there will come a time when life gets too busy for me to run away to my happy place for a few weeks each summer, but until then you'll know exactly where to find me.

Cover Image Credit: Blake Fox

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Valentine's Day Shouldn't Be a Celebration

Reflections on the social obligations of Valentine's Day.

I think that Valentine's Day is a little too much. Don't get me wrong, V-Day is amazing for couples who are in happy and healthy relationships, but it adds an unnecessary pressure to conform to societal standards. This is mostly why I decided to wear a headband with the words "Girls Rule" on the top, in which people thought was a tiara. I mostly decided to hang out with gal friends and had an amazing day nonetheless. Valentine's day is a pretty dreaded day for people who aren't creative with it, and although it can be a great way of spreading love awareness, what I want to touch base with is this: why it has become so sensationalized today.

Some people really hate Valentines day--maybe because they have had bad relationships, horrible memories, are perpetually single, or even, because they feel an obligation or pressure to conform to the societal construct of the day.

The history of this loving day starts with the legend of St. Valentine. "Valentine’s Day, in fact, originated as a liturgical feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr," as stated from the Smithsonian. During his time period, marriage was arranged, not out of love. The priest (and many others after him) married couples who were in love in secret through the church. St. Valentine and his reputation since then has always been of spreading love through faith.

In modern day, this sense of traditional love is lost. Just like any other holiday in the U.S., the advertisements for Valentine's Day start staggeringly early. You roam the halls of the drug store in mid-January and find aisles loaded with flower bouquets and chocolate boxes. No matter how early or late it is, this is a visual reminder of the day, or your perpetual singleness, or anything you affiliate with it, no matter how hard you try and tell yourself that it isn't. Even if you are in a relationship, it puts an unwanted weight on your shoulders, and you think: What should I get for my partner? Will the gift be too much or too little?

Let's compare Valentines Day to other celebrations, such as Christmas, or Birthdays. Obviously, these are all substantially different in many ways, but one thing persists: presents. Gifts have been the main way of displaying affection. Our ways of gift-giving has been sensationalized by the media, and constant stimulation of gift-giving in the media.

Of course, it is nice to be given a gift, but there are other ways of displaying affection as opposed to gift-giving, which I think is not emphasized enough in our culture. For example, taking someone to do an activity instead of giving them a materialistic gift. Giving someone you care about the gift of an amazing memory with you. Or, displaying our feelings for each other in our daily lives in the little smiles and jokes with them.

If everyone expresses love and appreciation for people they care about in their lives every day, Valentine's day will no longer be the only day you express love, but an added bonus.

For me, I expressed my thorough love for chocolate and gal pals, and couldn't be happier.

Cover Image Credit: Original Photo

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Why I Am Taking Lent Seriously This Year

I epically failed last year, but this year I will do better.

So February is here before I even knew it, which means my favorite month of the year is here! As many of you know, Valentine's Day is February 14th but so is Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. Last year, I was less than careful when it came to Lent and ended up giving up halfway through. I started Lent on a bad note last year when I decided that I was too busy to go to church for Ash Wednesday. The streak continued as I was terrible at not eating meat and fasting on Fridays and gave up quickly on my decision to give up soda. This year I'm deciding to do better; I need to do better this year. So this is how I'm going to take Lent seriously this year.

Lent was always a time that I dreaded as a kid. I hated the idea of having to give something that I enjoyed up, but now that I've gotten older I recognize the importance of Lent. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, and they ingrained into us the fact that Lent is supposed to mirror Jesus' sacrifice spending 40 days in the desert, but I honestly think that it is more than that. I definitely think that last year being my first year being away from the hold of Catholic school, I rebelled a little bit with my new found freedom of not being forced to participate in Lent. I didn't handle it in the right way, and so this year, I am seeing Lent as an opportunity for growth and to challenge my self-control a little. I am thinking about challenging myself and going vegetarian for Lent to try to better my health as well as trying to do more acts of service and to build upon my New Year's Resolution of positivity.

So this year I am definitely going to take Lent seriously to further and strengthen my faith. I know that I will probably stumble and make mistakes throughout, but I am confident that it will be a beneficial experience.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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