As the winter season drags on, I can’t help but wish it was summer. I’m tired of the snow, the wind, and the sun setting at 5 P.M.

I miss hanging out outside and those warm summer nights that seemed to last forever. But most importantly, I miss the lake.

Growing up in Ringwood, New Jersey, I’ve been surrounded by lakes my entire life. Cupsaw Lake was where I spent most of my time as a kid and still continue to do so every summer.

Some of my best summer memories were spent down at the lake, playing in the sand or jumping off the diving boards. But most importantly, I grew up to realize that the lake was so much more than a place to play.

It was and always will be my home.

The first time I was at the lake, I was only five months old. Ever since then, I was there with my friends and family every single day of every summer. It was a tradition.

For hours upon hours, we’d sit under the umbrella playing cards while our parents chit-chatted and made memories of their own. No matter what we did, we always had fun.

But when the lifeguards would go in and the snack bar closed, it signaled the end of another great day at the lake. It was the saddest part of the day.

Now that I’m older, I still go to the lake daily, but I work there as a lifeguard. This is one of the most rewarding jobs there is because I am able to witness the kids that are there today create the same friendships and memories I made when I was their age.

Even on my days off you will find me at the lake. Seeing children jump off the diving boards for the first time or race each other to the snack bar brings me back to when I was a kid, and I can’t help but enjoy every second of being there.

Growing up in a lake community gave me such an appreciation for the town I live in and the people I grew up with. Cupsaw Lake always feels more like a family than it does a community, and I hope that never changes.