Is summer camp worth it?

An Open Letter To The Summer Camp That Changed My Life

It's the place that I love best - ho la hee la ho

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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.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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10 Of The Cheapest Insta-Worthy Places To Travel This Summer

All right in the U.S.!

Ellie
Ellie
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Everyone wants to travel this summer, but where can you go without spending too much? These are some of the cheapest locations in the United States that you can go where I still feel there is plenty to do to have a good vacation. For other ways to spend less on a vacation, check out this article.

1. Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in the United States, and luckily for us, it isn't that expensive of a trip. There are plenty of hotels and Airbnbs in the area. So the most expensive part is getting there, depending on where you are coming from.

2. Glacier National Park

As you can see from the picture, this national park is absolutely breathtaking. If you are up to an outdoor adventure, this is definitely a great place to go.

3. Williamsburg

It is a beautiful yet newer historical town. It is ranked the best place to go in Virginia. Also, if you like amusement parks, Bush Gardens is there!

4. Portland

Not only is it a beautiful city, it is great for foodies! There are plenty of beautiful parks and museums.

5. San Antonio

Possibly the most beautiful place in Texas. There are many great eateries, parks, and historical sites like the Alamo.

6. New Orleans

From WWII museums to all the art and culture the city is known for, there is so much to do! You can visit Studio B or Mardi Gras World and many other exciting places.

7. Memphis

Go and visit the birthplace of rock n' roll at Sun Studios and all the other music places! If you love music history, this is definitely a city for you! You can also go and see the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum.

8. Sequoia National Park

If you love hiking and nature, you should visit these wonderfully large trees. They are incredible. You can also go to Moro rock to get a wonderful view. The best part is, it is FREE!

9. Colorado Springs

From the Olympic training center to the pure beauty of nature, there is plenty to see in Colorado Springs. You can go see the red rocks or explore the city. And while you are there, stop by the U.S. Air Force Academy.

10.  Salt Lake City

Obviously, you know about the Great Salt Lake, but there are a bunch of other things to see here. A few things are Temple Square, the Museum of Fine Arts, and all the gardens they have.

Ellie
Ellie

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