One Summer Camp Changed My Life

One Summer Camp Changed My Life

The day my life changed for the better.
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Back in 2008, my parents brought up the idea of a camp called Saint Seraphim's to me and I shot it down. I had never spent more than one night away from home, and forcing me to go to some camp I’ve never heard of sounded ridiculous. So I told them that I’d go next year, that way I can push aside their constant questions and be left alone.

2009 came around and this time, my parents didn’t really give me a choice. I had said “next year” and they took me seriously. So, surprise!! We registered you for camp!! I thought it was a funny joke until summer came and I realized they were serious. Maybe if we just don’t bring it up, the topic will subside and there’ll be no mention of this place.

At last, I was forced to pack my bags and listen to my parents’ countless stories of their summer camps back in Russia. Eventually, the day came and my parents dropped me off in the middle of the woods. I didn’t understand what genius idea they had and why they thought it would work out. Who sends a shy 10-year-old girl to a place where she only knows two people, neither of whom are in her group?

But that day, the counselors found two other girls for me to tent with for the week. One of whom became the greatest friend I’ve ever had in my life. On the last day, I cried after saying goodbye to my new best friend. The week went by so fast and I loved every minute of it. Little did I know that 8 years later, she’d still be the closest person I have.

Throughout my 9 years of camp, I have grown immensely in my spiritual life. The clergy have taught me countless lessons through our Law of God talks and inspired me to be a better person. I have made so many incredible friendships and grown up with the people that have gone with me every year. My friends are my soul sisters, the people who keep me going at the worst points in my life.

I never thought that St. Seraphim’s would change my life the way it did, but oh am I so blessed that I have this beautiful place to call home for a week every year. It is such a blessing to escape reality for one week with other like-minded people.

Camp makes you stop and think for once. When was the last time you stopped to look at the stars at night? Named the constellations? Listened to the sound of the crickets? How often do you get to roast Smores and warm up by the bonfire on a chilly night while sitting under a blanket with your tentmates?

You get to see the true beauty our souls reflect. You see your tentmate's messy hair and no makeup mornings in oversized warm pajamas and drag yourselves up on a morning trek up the stairs that leaves you out of breath.

The moments I cherish are the ones when we grab tea and coffee together and stand on the porch of the mess hall, huddling together for warmth on a cold morning. Those are the times that I wish I could freeze and keep forever. The days of tubing down the river with your group and trying not to get carried away by the current. You can’t help laughing at how ridiculous your friends look during the camp Olympic games. And even though you are so embarrassed, these are some of the moments you’ll fondly look back on at the end of the week.

Before we know it, it’s Friday. We’re screaming our favorite songs at the top of our lungs on each other’s shoulders when YMCA plays at the camp dance. It’s times like those conga limes that run outside and back into the mess hall that you swear your heart could burst from happiness.

Then it’s church time and all you can think of is how beautiful the service is but how heartbreaking it is to think that our time is coming to an end. Those late night capture the flag games scared the life out of us, but now we look back and laugh out heads off when we reminisce about how crazy that night was.

This camp creates life-long friendships that don’t depend on how far or close you might be, because you know that the bonds you form with your best friends will never break. So thank you to the incredible camp staff for watching me grow into a college student who finished her first year as a junior counselor, when you remember the first day a skeptical little girl with messy brown hair walked through the mess hall doors on her very first day at camp.

Cover Image Credit: My own photo

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23 Actual Quotes From Nursing Students

Behind the scenes at clinicals.
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Many nursing students actively complain about the tortures of nursing school, but those on the outside may not know how stressful it is. Here are 23 fun quotes from actual nursing students that can give you an idea of what nursing school is really like:

1. "If I died and went to hell, it would take me a week to realize that I wasn't in nursing school anymore."

2. "My GPA is higher than the number of hours I sleep at night."

3. "Is it weird that I love nursing school, but it also makes me want to cry at the same time?"

4. "Can't I just learn everything I need to know from watching Grey's Anatomy?"

5. "I laid my practice catheter on my bed to scare away my roommate's boyfriend."

6. "My clinical badge picture actually makes me look like I am a serial killer."

7. "We are literally a cult, guys. We wear the same things and in order to be a nursing student, you have to pass certain tests that involve manipulating body parts and such."

8. "We only worked 12 hours on our 12-hour shift! This is a miracle."

9. "Wouldn't that be cool if we initiated IV bags full of Starbucks coffee into each other's bloodstreams?"

10. "Are you a pulmonary embolism? Because you make me breathless."

11. "I am never getting married because I stopped talking to boys when I entered nursing school."

12. "Everyone else gets to go out, go to the bars, go on dates, work out, go to the lake, but I am just sitting here trying to pass nursing school."

13. *Holds up blank piece of paper* "This is a picture of my current social life."

14. "I just want it to be the weekend so I can have free time to work on homework."

15. "For our tests, all the answers are correct. You just have to pick the BEST answer."

16. "All I want for my birthday is a lavender stethoscope with my name engraved on the bell."

17. "On a pain scale from 1-10, I would say that nursing school is a solid 11."

18. "Do these scrubs make me look fat?"

18. "I love the pockets on our scrubs! You can literally hold anything and everything. Maybe even a puppy so that you can take it out when you start to feel sad."

19. "It is really sad how I refer to life outside of nursing school as 'real life.'"

20. "Finals week is literally every week in nursing school. We haven't gone a week without a major test this entire semester."

21. "People only respect me when I am wearing scrubs."

22. "I have my friend groups clumped into two different groups: sorority friends and nursing friends."

23. "How is school going? Yeah, nursing school sucks, but it is so worth it."

Although a lot of these quotes seem to be negative, you need to remember that it is easier to complain about the bad than it is to praise about the good. Nursing school is pretty time-consuming, as well as mentally and physically exhausting, but I would not trade it for any other major. I am blessed to call myself a nursing student, and my nursing friends have turned into one of the biggest support systems that I have ever encountered.

Oh, and all these quotes are actually quotes from me, ha.

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Matthew, I Wish You Were Still Here

"Grief is like the ocean - it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim." -Vicki Harrison

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"It'll get easier"

That's what I heard over and over after the death of my best friend, Matthew.

I believed it, too.

It's been over two and a half years since his passing and my grieving process has actually...gotten worse. It feels like it has gone in the opposite order than it was "supposed to" which has made this fall extremely difficult. You see, Matthew was a kicker on our high school's football team, so every time I see "the boys of fall" it rips me to shreds. He was a great football player too; he was headed to college to play. Football games were hard to attend because all I could think about is how much I wished I was traveling to watch him play.

Memories from songs, jokes, and pictures flood back to me more intense than ever before. I feel myself sitting in a situation just thinking it would be better if he were there. I also have started asking all of the what-ifs.

Matthew was one of my greatest friends, but he was always so much more than that. He took me to my first prom, was along for all of the crazy boy stories I made him listen to, and made me laugh as no one else could. He was my confidant, rescuer, protector and adventure companion. He was such a light in my life and the happiest person I knew.

I have again been finding myself questioning why he was taken so soon and going in reverse of my so-called closure. So much has happened recently that makes me wish he were still here to go to for all of my battles. I look at his pictures with more pain and longing than ever before. And why? I thought I had made progress. How does a grieving process go in the wrong direction?

The loss of a loved one will never "make sense". And the grieving process doesn't have an "order" for everyone. I don't think it will ever go away for me. I will just have to take each day at a time. Matthew will always be a part of me and I will always have precious memories with him. Just know that if you are feeling this way you are not alone. There's no correct way to grieve.

It's just all about learning how to swim.

Matthew would have been twenty-one at the end of this month.

I hope you're partying hard up there MP, I love you.

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