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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19 Struggles Only Girls With The 'Looks Thin In Clothes But Not In A Bikini' Body Type Will Understand

A resounding 'thank you' to whoever decided one-pieces were cool again.
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We grew up thinking the world was black and white. There's tall people and short people. There's old people and young people.

There's fat people and skinny people.

But as you get older, you realize there is a lot more in between those two ends of the spectrum than you ever thought possible. Especially when it comes to weight. And you do a lot more realizing if you're in an awkward position on that scale... Literally.

1. People always tell you to stop saying you are fat

Obviously, your friends SHOULD prevent you from talking negatively about yourself. And if you only saw you when you were fully dressed, you'd probably tell yourself to stop saying you're fat, too.

2. And are kind of surprised by your actual weight

You've definitely had friends who are shocked by the number on your scale because you can carry it pretty well when you are fully dressed.

3. Sometimes you feel like a catfish

Have you ever changed out of your super cute, flattering outfit and looked at yourself in the mirror and thought... Wow, am I lying to people?

4. But you know this is probably true for most people

When you're wearing clothes, typically the parts of a body that bring about insecurities (stomach, namely) are covered. No matter the body type, you realize most people are more comfortable in clothes than out of them.

5. Your confidence is often contingent on the month

November? Yep, won't need to be in shorts or a bikini for about 7-8 months. I am good to go.

February? I'll need to be in a bikini soon.. I could use some work.

6. You are thrilled by the one-piece bathing suit making a fashion come back

A resounding 'thank you' to whoever decided it was time to give one-pieces a try again. The stomachs of us in-between gals are appreciative.

7. Crop tops are 95% of the time not your top of choice

Yeah, okay, clothes are supposed to work for me and not against me.

8. You honestly don't understand jean sizes

I have fluctuated in weight a lot of my life, most recently losing 25lbs, and I still did not budge in jean sizes.

9. You wonder what other people think when they see you

Do other people see me as thin in clothing? Or fat in a bikini? What size am I perceived as?

10. Shopping is kind of a nightmare

Have you ever found about 27 items you liked, added the prices and thought, ah, it is going to be so tough to choose from all of these items? Only to go into the fitting room and realize only 2 of the items fit you well? Yep, me every single time I go to the store.

SEE ALSO: 7 Struggles Of Being The Girl Who Is "Not Skinny" But Also "Not Fat"

11. You're thankful that at least you've got boobs

You can kind of hide them in clothes, and then let them steal the show away from your tummy in a swimsuit.

12. You have a hard time setting weight-loss goals

You aren't really sure how overweight you are (if you are, at all) and you don't want to be at an unhealthy weight on either side of the spectrum.

13. Body positivity comes and goes

There are days, weeks or even months when you feel like the most beautiful person on the planet, and then something happens (old jeans don't fit, you try on a new bathing suit, etc.) and you convince yourself that all of that confidence was wrong and undeserved.

14. You always try on the biggest size first

Either this or you're in a weird limbo between the smallest plus sizes size and the biggest generic sizes size.

15. Half of you knows every body is a bikini body, and half of you is convinced that yours is not

You know that your body is worthy of wearing whatever you want to wear, but looking at yourself and seeing what society (and you) sometimes deem as unattractive can eat away at that knowledge.

16. But you also know self-love and confidence are key to beauty

Even if you have to fake it, you know that feeling confident is going to carry you pretty far.

17. Being in a bathing suit is a constant game of readjustment

Okay, I am sitting. Pull the bottoms up to cover as much as my stomach as possible and the back of the top down to cover any back rolls.

18. You've avoided the mirror after a shower before

You know that you are just going to lose all the comfort you felt in your body during the day when you see yourself, so sometimes it is best to just avoid it.

19. Ultimately, you know your beauty is not contingent on what you are wearing

The goal for everyone should be to get to a point where it doesn't matter if you're in a snowsuit, a bathing suit or a birthday suit... You can see your beauty no matter what and feel confident despite what you have on. It'll take time, but falling in love with the way you look is worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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A Cliche Bucket List For Summer 2019

Summer's coming, so get ready.

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Here are 10 things that I am holding myself accountable for this summer. Whether you're reading this for entertainment or inspiration, I hope it inspires you.

1. Canada.

While Canada doesn't sound like the most tropical summer destination, it is a great place to go with friends. In fact, my friends and I booked a three-day trip to Canada, staying in an Airbnb for only $40 a person. I'm telling you, people; get to Canada! It's cheap, and 18 is the legal drinking age. *wink wink*

2. Myrtle Beach.

From Broadway at the Beach to the amazing food and entertainment options, Myrtle Beach is the perfect getaway for you and your gal pals this summer.

3. Read a new book every month.

Juggling online classes, girls trips, and baecations, reading can get a little difficult. That's why I'm giving myself a one-book-a-month goal. I love reading and I truly believe it is therapeutic for the soul. Whether it's a steamy romance or a nail-biting thriller, I WILL read one book a month.

4. Run a 5k.

This one is a little hard for me. While the extent of my exercise is going on the elliptical for 20 minutes if I'm feeling motivated, I plan on pushing myself to try for a 5k or at least a Color Run. I know that's very farfetched, but hey, a girl can dream.

5. Quit using heat on my hair.

This one is self-explanatory. If I continue ironing my hair at the rate I'm going, I'll be bald in 10 years.

6. Go on a road trip.

This isn't as hard as the 5k, but this one definitely is going to be a struggle. I hate driving in cars for more than 20 minutes, but this summer, I want to push myself and try to enjoy the journey.

7. Write a story.

Now, this one may not apply to all of you if you're not a writing freak like I am. I have always wanted to successfully write a story beginning to end, and for some reason, I always push it off. This summer, I WILL (even if it's just a few pages) write a story. For those of you who cringe at the thought of writing, turn this goal into something you'd enjoy. Maybe paint something or try to beat your mile time.

8. Get fit.

Okay, this may be the most cliche of them all. But seriously, I mean this one. My fitness journal has been slightly below average and I'm sick of it. This summer, I plan on eating right and treating my body the way it deserves to be treated. Maybe my 5k goal will help.

9. Start my own blog website.

This has been a dream of mine for years. I love writing and I love the platform that Odyssey gives me. I hope to one day (hopefully this summer) be able to contribute to Odyssey and to my own website.

10. Give up social media for a month.

A month may be a little too hard for my social media addiction, but mark my words, I will do another social media cleanse. I did one once before and I felt so refreshed. Honestly, it made me want to stay away from social media. I'm hoping that doing it one more time will do the trick for me.

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