For the better half of my childhood, I attended a summer camp. This summer camp in a small, unheard-of-by-most, middle-of-nowhere town taught me important lifelong lessons and gave me the best friends a girl could ever have.
More specifically, this summer camp made me feel more emotions in one week than I had ever felt in a year beforehand. Feelings of love, sorrow, happiness, excitement, anxiety, and feelings of nostalgia are all things that come running back to my mind when I hear the simple sound of a crackling fire, cicadas chirping, or the splash of a pool.
The minimalist aspects of a summer camp truly filled my heart with complete joy, even if it's not the first time I'm experiencing or doing it. Examples include: being reunited with other campers whom I haven't seen for a year, making homemade hawaiian pizza, dancing along to that summer's hit while tying knots on yet another friendship bracelet, and so much more. The simple things that make a summer camp a youth's home away from home will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
The relationships one gains while attending a summer camp is indescribable. Despite the fact that most times you're with your fellow campers for less than a week, co-existing with them in a confined space such as a wood cabin makes you close in more than one way. These friendships only continued to grow the older I got, and even to this day I'm still friends with the ones I went to camp with over three years ago.
The beginning chords of a song play softly on a guitar, and smiles creep onto faces and eyes look towards friends as campers start to sing along. My favorite parts of summer camp were those spent at a campfire with a guitar, and a few of my closest companions. These nights are also indescribable, because while others might call us crazy for sitting on the ground with mosquitoes crawling all over us, with only the campfire and the moon lighting up the night, it's perfection, in my mind. There's nothing I'd rather do than lay on my back and look up at the stars, listening to the fire slowly die down, and appreciate nature without the distractions of daily life.
Campers and counselors alike were taught that no matter what wishes they make at the closing campfire, the ashes of the burnt sticks that carried said wishes would always remain at camp. Because of this, both campers and counselors felt a connection to camp, even if we weren't there, our wishes always were.
Not only was summer camp home to some of the most relaxing memories I have, it's home to some of the most chaotic, competitive, and fun memories that will take home in my mind as well. With all of the all-camp games, such as Mission Impossible and Capture the Flag just to name a few, it's easy to say that not only did I gain some memories, but a few scratches and bruises as well. The homemade foam slip-n-slide, arts and crafts, and the opportunity to make desserts over a fire tested my ability to be creative, and how to make something that would serve a purpose, either to me or to others.
Summer camp was my second home, and parts of me will always believe that aside from my parents, it helped to raise me. I wouldn't be the person I am today without half of the memories, lessons learned, and fun times shared with others. It will always remain one of the most magical places in my world.