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
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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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The Ultimate College Packing List: Closet

The transition from a walk-in closet to a non-existent dorm closet is a hard one ... My tips and tricks for making the transition smoother!
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Packing for college is a daunting task, and there's a lot of stuff you need to bring.

A fellow Odyssey writer, Taylor Paluczak, recently wrote an article talking about all the things you need to bring for college. If you haven't read it yet and are an incoming freshman, check it out!

There is one huge area of importance that she left out, however: the closet.

Growing up, I was used to having a walk-in closet that was roomy enough to hang all of my clothes, plus an enormous dresser in my room for foldable items.

I knew my closet at college would be way smaller than what I was used to, but I didn't think it would be that bad. So, when packing for college, I packed with a no-piece-of-clothing-left-behind mindset.

Bad idea.

When I arrived at my dorm in the fall, fitting all of my clothing into my closet was a struggle, to say the least. After both my closet, dresser, and the nightstand were filled to the brim with clothing, I was still left with extra pieces that didn't have a home in my tiny shoebox of a room.

This year, I plan on bringing way less stuff. As an incoming freshman, excitement takes over and your head fills with possibilities. Suddenly, you are convinced that of course you have to bring every dress you own - you never know when you'll need it! And that sweater you haven't worn in 4 months? Maybe you'll want it! And, yes, you'll need every one of your old Halloween costumes, just in case.

Trust me - I learned the hard way. Don't bring everything you own with you to college. Here's my list of what I used and what I didn't. Hopefully this makes it easier for you when deciding what to bring with you and what to leave behind.

First things first: Get a double-hanging closet organizer. This baby instantly doubles your closet space, allowing for double the clothes! Because let's be honest -- no matter how hard you try, you're still going to overpack. Also, I would recommend getting thin, non-slip hangers. They take up less space than traditional hangers, and your clothes will never fall off.

Here's my list:

Clothes

  • Lots of underwear and socks
  • Clothes for sleeping/lounging
    • Pajamas
    • Leggings
    • Comfortable t-shirts/sweaters
    • Sweatshirt
  • Workout clothing
    • Running shorts
    • Tank tops
    • Cropped leggings
    • Sports bras
  • Going out clothes
    • Rompers
    • Dresses
    • Printed pants/shorts
    • Skirts
    • Crop tops
    • Tank tops
    • Fun blouses
  • Jeans (only a few pairs)
  • Shorts (only a few pairs)
  • T-shirts/tank tops
  • Casual tops/blouses for class
  • Sweaters
  • Casual dresses
  • Formal dress
  • Rain jacket
  • Vests
  • Coat/jacket for colder weather

Shoes

  • Running shoes
  • Shower shoes!
  • Wedges
  • Sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Converse
  • Riding boots
  • Booties
  • 1 Pair of Heels
    • With wedges as an option, you won't wear heels as much as you would think. Bring one versatile pair that can be used for formal occasions.
  • Rainboots
  • Winter boots
  • Slippers

Accessories

  • Statement necklaces
  • Pendant necklaces
  • Earrings
  • Bracelets and bangles
  • Watch
  • Wallet
  • Cross-body bag
  • Tote bag
  • Backpack
  • Makeup bag
  • Duffel bag for travel
  • Belts
  • Tights
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats/gloves/scarves

You Won't Need: High School T-shirts

Leave behind the high school T-shirts. Honestly. If you plan on joining a sorority, you'll be given more T-shirts than you know what to do with, and the ones you brought from home will sit collecting dust. One or two for sleeping is fine, but any more than that is excessive.

You Will Need: Casual Clothes for Class

Stock up on Nike shorts, leggings, workout tops, and sports bras. Not only can you wear these things to class when you're feeling particularly lazy (hello 8:30 a.m. classes!), but they will come in handy when you go to the rec center to workout. If you're feeling a little more ambitious, jeans/leggings paired with a sweater/flannel or a casual sundress and sandals are perfect options for class.

You Won't Need: "In-Between" Clothes

You know the clothes I'm talking about: they aren't fancy, but they aren't super casual either. You would wear these out to a nice dinner with your family or to church on Sunday. Trust me, there are practically zero occasions that you would need these type of clothes in college. Perhaps it's a good idea to bring along an outfit or two that would be appropriate for an interview or presentation, but other than that, leave them at home!

You Will Need: Going Out Clothes

You'll be going to parties in college, so going out clothes are a must. Going out clothes are different than your nicest Lilly Pulitzer dresses. Think: fun rompers, printed shorts, and cool tank tops. I recommend checking out Forever 21 or Tobi for affordable but fun pieces, because it's likely that these pieces will get spilled on and borrowed by all of your friends. Don't stress if you don't have hundreds of different outfits, either; I guarantee that there will be girls on your hall or in your sorority with closets that you can raid.

You Won't Need: Off-Season Clothes

When you get to school in August, there is no reason you need your winter jacket or cute fall sweaters, no matter how excited you are about your Nordstrom sale purchases. Leave them in a box at home, and your parents can send them to you whenever necessary. Otherwise, you should be able to survive until fall/Thanksgiving break.

You Will Need: Accessories

Statement necklaces, bold earrings, long pendants, fun studs, chunky bangles and big watches - bring them all! Jewelry storage is easy, plus displaying your jewelry acts as a part of your dorm decor. Accessories are perfect for spicing up your outfits and transforming them into a completely different look. This way, instead of buying a new dress, just add a new necklace to your favorite old dress and voilà! A totally new outfit.

You Won't Need: Every Halloween Costume You Own

Halloween is one weekend in the year. Yes, you'll need 2-4 costumes for themed parties, but you will not need your entire costume collection from your childhood. Costumes tend to be bulky, so why have them take up valuable space in your teeny-tiny dorm room? This is a perfect example of something to have your parents ship to you. Before you head off to school in August, pack up some costumes in a box and have your parents mail you it mid-October. Once the holiday weekend is over, bring your costumes back home with you over Thanksgiving break!

You Will Need: Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Depending on your college's location, this could mean rainboots, a winter parka, or a bikini. Be smart. You have to walk to class no matter the weather, so if you're going to school in southern California, chances are you won't need every sweater you own and your heavy-duty winter boots.

Remember, if you don't wear it at home, you're not going to wear it at school. If you're debating whether or not to bring a piece and it's not something you absolutely love, leave it at home! You can always pack up a box of "maybes" and have your parents send it to you if you decide you need its contents.

Getting ready for college is hard enough without the added stress of figuring out what to pack. Hopefully this list makes it a little bit easier. Good luck and happy packing!

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To The Girl Who Can't Wait For Fall

Fall is overrated.

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I don't hate fall. I want to make that very clear. As long as it's not too hot and not too cold, the weather is actually pretty enjoyable. I do love to watch the leaves change color and I like watching certain scary(ish) movies close to Halloween. But here's the thing: It's still summer!

Around this time of year, I start seeing posts about how fall is coming soon and I just don't get the hype. Personally, I like to savor every remaining ounce of summer that I can before switching gears into cold weather mode. So last year when Starbucks rolled out the pumpkin spice lattes before August was even over, I was a little annoyed.

As I said earlier, I just don't understand why people get so hyped up about the fall season. Yes, summer can be hot and miserable, but fall is the time of year when everything seems to get dark and gloomy. It rains a lot and starts to get dark earlier. Sure, you can throw on a sweater and curl up by the fire, but that doesn't compare to being able to bask in the sunshine all day.

Fall is nice when it comes around, but there's no need to rush into the next season. Once fall is over, we go into the holiday season, and after that, we're back into the dead of winter. As much as I look forward to these things, I think it's important to appreciate each season for what it has to offer, and not constantly anticipate what's coming next.

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