Another summer has come and gone and I've spent the majority of mine at a summer camp, as per usual.
And my time as a camp counselor has again shaped my life in just a few short months more than I can put into words.
I've formed unexplainable close bonds with my coworkers. These are people I spend nearly every minute of every day with for two and a half months and the separation anxiety is about to set in when I move back into school.
My coworkers are people I feel comfortable talking to about any topic under the sun — the people I know I can always lean on for unconditional support.
They are people I've created an entire vault of memories with. We have shared countless laughs and a few tears.
There are no other people in the world I'd rather dress up in ridiculous costumes with to put on skits for children.
These are the people I know I've got for the long run no matter how long we go in between seeing each other.
Along with the friendships I've made or strengthened are the lessons I've learned from working with so many amazing kids.
Campers teach you patience and humility. They teach you to embrace everything it is about you that makes you who you are —even if some of those things are silly.
Campers teach you kindness and to live a life away from all the baggage that seems to come with the new entrance into adult life.
They remind you of the magic in the world and how you really can make anything happen with some imagination.
And there's something about the place.
Camp is a place where you can leave it all behind. You leave behind social media and fashion standards.
In return, you get the joy of fresh dewy grass in the morning and the glassy look of the lake before fifty people jump in it.
You get tan lines even if you're as pale as me because you've spent every day except for the rainy ones outside.
You get physically stronger from lifting boats and walking up hills and swimming for lifeguard training.
And you learn to drink so many bottles of water a day that it's hard to keep track anymore.
I've accumulated a classic camp counselor wardrobe of Chacos, athletic shorts and weird graphic T-shirt's.
I feel incomplete without a backpack attached to my body and a clipboard in hand.
I've depleted my supply of pens and band-aids (of which I mostly used on myself).
I've depleted everyone else's supplies of sunscreen and bug spray since I'm too lazy to buy my own.
I've sweated through every T-shirt I've ever worn and I've conditioned myself to be a coffee person again.
I've gone through moments where I wonder if it's worth it: moments when the rain is pouring down and you have 70 rowdy children running around in one building and you have a raging headache. Several children are crying. You are also on the verge of tears.
But these thoughts last less than a second because you see a child smile after learning a new game you taught them or laugh at an excessively corny joke you just told and instantly you wonder why you ever questioned if it was worth it for even a moment.
The job is not as easy as all your non-counselor friends like to picture it is. They think all you do is frolic and play. They don't see how physically and mentally drained you are every day before you go to sleep.
The sun takes a toll on you. The physical labor takes a toll on you. The screaming songs in the heat take a toll on you. Wearing a one-piece lifeguard suit all day every day that is often times a little damp takes a toll on you. And sometimes your emotions take a toll on you.
Yet I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world. The impact my coworkers and all the campers have had on me is indescribable.
My confidence stems from my time at camp. My ability to work with others and my sense of humor arose from my time at camp. I am who I am because of my past 13 summers spent swimming in a lake and running around playing tag.
Summer camp is fun.
But it is so much more than that.
Summer camp is safe. Summer camp is freeing. Summer camp is one of those things that will change your entire life.
And another summer has come and gone, and I am having trouble saying goodbye — so I won't. I'll say see you later because goodbye is not in my vocabulary.