I remember it like it was yesterday.

The sun was shining brightly down on my small pale face in the July heat. My first time at a sleep-away camp.

I was carrying my pink sleeping bag and my dad next to me with a large duffle bag stuffed with t-shirts, shorts, water shoes, sunscreen and bug spray.

I wasn't scared, it was almost a relief. Little did I know that 10 years later, I'd be one of the lifeguards at the pool.

Camp Don Lee in Arapahoe, North Carolina has changed my life. It has brought me amazing friends, memories, and experiences like no other. It makes me sad to know that some kids are not fortunate enough to be influenced by something so positive.

From belting Cinema and Africa at camp dances to the thrill of taking the rope swing off the high dive (illegal, but whatevs), to late night talks on the benches at vesper dale - camp has it all.

You know how those things that become so incredibly important to you often times will relate to small things in your daily life that make you nostalgic? It happens to me every day.

Whether that be the way the clouds look on an exceptionally blue day reminding me of standing on the shoreline watching sailboats pass by with the breeze blowing by,

or smelling the scent of pine trees reminding me of the being on the challenge course, or the way a day feels outside, or when I listen to a song and I am taken back.

I wish it upon everyone to experience this.

My best summer was 2016. Spending it on the beach with my closest friends who know everything about me as we sit underneath the stars and watched the Cape Lookout lighthouse spins in circles, singing songs by a campfire, roasting marshmallows. It is moments like that where I wish I could stay forever.

As a staff member, it brings me so much joy to see campers smile and hug you because you are their role model, or to take a break by the poolside, or go exploring New Bern with your friends on your nights off or go to the beach on your weekend off.

I am thankful that I've gotten so much from this place. There is no greater bittersweet sadness that I feel on the last day of camp as we sing the goodbye song. Camp has my heart, and the day that I first came to camp was the most influential day on the timeline of my life.