Dear Camp Ammon, BSA,

When I walk through your gates at the end of each July, it feels like coming home. It wasn’t always like that, but I’m glad we settled our differences.

See, you and I started off on a bit of a rough patch. I was in the heyday of my emo music phase and I wasn’t very stoked about the idea of leaving Van’s Warped Tour a couple of hours early to go to a Boy Scout camp. Better yet, a Boy Scout camp where I would have to do hours on hours of community service, wear khakis, and sleep on an army cot. Not the most appealing of ideas to a 14 year old girl.

That feeling was changed pretty quick. When I walked through your gates and to my tent, I was instantly met with a bunch of people sitting around, someone strumming out “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers -- a song that still makes me emotional to this day, 5 years later -- and I knew I would fit in just fine here.

I’m missing you a whole lot, Camp Ammon. It’s been just over a week since I packed up my footlocker, tucked my uniform away, and hung up my lanyard for the next 50 weeks. I got to see 13-year-old first years experience your magic for the first time, and 17-year-old fifth years see their last days as a camper before joining the ranks of staff. A lot of things can happen in your two week duration, Camp Ammon, but I wouldn’t give these memories up for anything in the world.

The other day, I was trying to explain what makes the confines of your gates home to me. I say “Oh, it’s a 14 day service camp at the Wisconsin State Fair,” and people instantly lose interest. When I detail the discipline, or the four military-grade inspections a day, I wish I could show the camaraderie and teamwork those things pull out of your campers. I wish I could show the friendships and true love that these 14 days will spark from everyone who spends time in the QM, who sits at the picnic tables in the Oasis. Maybe, just maybe, they would get it.

You see, Ammon, you’ve lead me to some of the best friends that I’ve ever known. You’ve taught me responsibility, accountability, and discipline. You’ve made my mother yearn for all of those skills after I return home from my 2-week vacation, evidence of my absence marked by the amount of grass and dirty clothing strewn about my room. But most of all, you’ve taught me love.

Wearing the signature pristine white polo, fingertip length khakis, and an unflattering ballcap while scanning tickets of fair-goers, ushering people to their seats at a concert, or fetching people ice was the highlight of my summer. On July 1st, I would count down the days until I got to sleep in the comfort of my sleeping bag atop a rickety old army cot, surrounded by people that I love, and people who love me.

So, Camp Ammon, I guess what I’m trying to say is: thank you. Thank you for the service you provide to the Wisconsin State Fair. Thank you for the memories I’ve made, the memories I will continue to make. Thank you for the friends -- no, the family -- I’ve met. Thank you for the bugle calls at 0655, and taps at 2300. But most importantly, thank you for making me the person I am today. I owe you the world.

Love Always,

Ria

Camp Ammon is a distinctive service camp located at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, WI. Running annually during the Fair, Camp Ammon allows you freedom, fun and the opportunity to explore new friendships.

Sponsored by the Three Harbors Council - Boy Scouts of America and the Wisconsin State Fair, eligible boys and girls who are at least 13 years old and registered as a Boy Scout, Venturer or Explorer are invited to join the party.

For more information visit the Camp’s website here!