For the first time in 10 years, I won't be getting on that coach bus that will take me away to a whole different world for seven weeks. For the first time in 10 years, I won't be living in a bunk with some of my best friends. I won't be waking up to the sound of the head counselor's voice and getting ready for line-up. I won't be walking up to the dining hall for the daily chicken and potatoes or chanting obnoxious chants that don't make sense to the outside world.

For the first time in 10 years, I won't be attending summer camp. And with a sad and heavy heart, I write this letter thanking that magical place for forever changing my world.

To my summer home,

First, I would like to thank you for giving me confidence. I learned that standing out and being different was cool. Being in that camp play or dressing up in weird outfits was the norm. You taught me to love myself despite my flaws.

Thank you for teaching me how to interact with people without a computer or cell phone screen in between us. Thank you for teaching me the importance of communication and eye-contact. Maybe it's because of that lack of technology those seven weeks that your camp friends are your best friends.

At camp, if you like that boy, you tell him to his face and if you're mad at that person you can't hide behind the words you type. Surprisingly, it's much easier. So thank you for teaching me how to survive and thrive without technology.

Thank you for teaching me the meaning of responsibility. At camp, you don't have your mother or father to make your bed or keep the bunk clean -- that's on you. It was on you to change your sheets and do your laundry and do your daily job. Yes, we all complained through it all each and every day but did it nonetheless.

Thank you for teaching me from a young age that it's OK to be away from home for a little. It has definitely made adjusting to college life easier. Going away to school is something that most kids aren't used to, but for us camp kids, it's just like camp but for 10 months instead of two.

Thank you for teaching me how to properly write and send a letter. There's was only one way to communicate with your parents and friends during those summers in the middle of nowhere and that was by writing letters. Now, I can pretty much write and send a letter in my sleep. Although email is big now, it's always good to go old school with some paper and pen sometimes.

Thank you for giving me an abundance of pictures and videos to laugh at for months and even years after camp. There is nothing like looking at summer pictures and videos and reminiscing. Especially when you find that random memory that you completely forgot happened like dancing in the rain or wearing onesies to an evening activity.

And thank you for always giving me a story to tell, whether it be in school or to my friends. There are never enough camp stories -- well, if you ask anyone who went to camp, at least -- and the rest of the world gets pretty tired of those pretty fast.

Thank you for helping me grow up. I may have started as that naive and shy 9-year-old, but I found myself at camp and found the person I was always meant to become.

Thank you for making songs personal and changing the words for sing. There is nothing in this world like when you hear one of your camp sing songs after camp and immediately start singing your version of the words. People may think you're crazy, but that's the best part.

Thank you for teaching me how to live with other people. This comes especially in handy for living with a roommate in college. Sharing a space with one other person doesn't seem as scary when you've shared a space with about 14 other people.

Thank you for teaching me that some of the best memories are the small and seemingly insignificant ones.

Camp is compiled with small and random moments of laughing and crying and smiling over the frivolous things and those are the moments you think about later in life with a faint heart. It's the time you stayed up all night talking or the time you and your friends started a flash mob in the dining hall or the time you jumped into the pool in all of your clothing after winning that championship game.

Thank you for letting me mold my campers just as my counselors molded me. Thank you for letting me teach them those camp traditions and passing down all that was given to me.


And most importantly, thank you for giving me a forever family.

Yes, I know you have your parents and grandparents and siblings but this is different. You're not bounded to these people by blood. This family bleeds a different set of colors. These people will never be simply strangers no matter where you go. They have loved you through every up and down and awkward stage even when they didn't have to. This is a different kind of family.

You know feeling you get when you are sitting alone at the lake as the sun threatens to fall beneath the trees to lay to rest and the thick summer air thins just a bit and the water reaches a stand still like a sheet of ice? It is in this moment of time where you truly realize how short your time here is; how your childhood set with the sun and how everything that is becomes everything that once was.

This overwhelming feeling is suffocating yet freeing as there’s no way to go back in time to relive those moments yet remind you to savor those ahead. There is so much that fuels my passion for this place like every single piece of DNA that makes us who we are. But you can’t take out and expand each strand individually; you just know it’s there.

Ten years later and I don’t know if I can bring myself to walk away from something that has branded me to the bone nor if I am ready, but every chapter needs an ending so a new one can begin.

I may never truly be ready to say goodbye, so for now, I am going to say thank you and see you later.

With much love,

1-2-3-4 WE WANT COLOR WAR

5-6-7-8 WE DON'T WANT TO WAIT