Why Being A "Sleepaway Camp Kid" Means So Much

Why Being A "Sleepaway Camp Kid" Means So Much

Friends, friends, friends...we will always be.
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Coming from a town where it was uncommon to go to sleepaway camp every summer, not many people understood its benefits and how it impacts lives. I can easily say that going to sleepaway camp was one of the best parts of my life. I wouldn't want to trade that experience for anything. Here's why...

Leading up to the first day of camp, there was always a lot of anticipation and excitement. Watching your trunks get picked up and getting your annual pre-camp haircut and mani-pedi was always a part of that. Although the drive up to camp felt like forever, passing all the iconic spots that were close to camp was one of the best parts. Passing places like The Corner and Candy Cone (if you know, you know) always had everyone out of their seats. As a camper (and even an alumni), there was no better feeling than pulling up and seeing the camp sign and all of your favorite people. You're finally home again.

One of the greatest parts of going to sleepaway camp is the sense of community and family that is shared. Camp will always feel welcoming regardless of your age or if you're a camper, counselor, alumni, or parent. There's also always so much spirit and pride at camp. Whether every camper and counselor is participating in Olympics or Color War or crying their eyes out at Color War Sing, seeing how these things bring everyone together is unlike anything else. A key part of camp has always been the traditions shared between generations. From doing cheers in the dining hall and in the playhouse to watching the letters burn on the last night, this part of my life will always be cherished.

If we're being completely honest, even the "bad" parts of camp made it so special. Take finding out the evening activity was leagues or the food for example. Ask anyone on girls side, leagues was never the favorite. The food wasn't horrible but on the days when pizza bagels were for lunch, let's just say the dining hall was a little crazy. Every part of camp, the good and the bad, are unforgettable memories.

Going to sleepaway camp has taught me countless of life lessons and most definitely prepared me for college with being away from home and living with others. While being a camper, I also learned so much about myself. Camp brought me out of my shell as well as make me more independent and responsible. Being away from my parents for seven weeks at a time taught me how to fend for myself. Camp has truly shaped me into the person I am today.

The thing I took away the most from camp, besides the life lessons and the memories, was the relationships I formed. To this day, some of my best friends are my camp friends. These are some of the only people who you never complained about being stuck with every summer, in your bunk or not. Camp gave me lifelong friends and I will never forget the times we played cards by the pool on a "day o'laze" or games around the table in the dining hall, gossiped about everything for hours, or the tears we shed on the last night of camp every summer. Your best friends from camp will be there every step of the way for the rest of your life. Although reunions outside of camp are fun, they don't happen as often as they should. Regardless, your camp friends are your forever friends and I will be forever grateful that camp gave me my people.

If I didn't go to sleepaway camp, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Regardless of how many summers you went for, camp is undoubtedly a remarkable and impactful experience. I have been shaped in ways that are unimaginable. Thank you Mom and Dad for putting me on a bus in 2009 and making me go out of my comfort zone, and thank you Camp Chipinaw for the amazing life lessons and bonds that I formed every summer.

Cover Image Credit: Sydney Eisenberg

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.

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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hot air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

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10 things I wish I could Have Told My Younger Self

There are some things school just can't teach you.

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Sometimes I think about how life would be different if I knew the things back then that I know now.

1. Stay true to who you are

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Basic but important; your self-worth is not what others say or think about you.

2. Change is OK

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This was the hardest for me to learn.

I never understood why people stopped asking me to hang out. I never understood why I had to move schools and make new friends.

But now, I understand it is all a part of life; this just opens the door to meet more amazing people. You will find YOUR people!

3. Always be the best version of you

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Whatever your goal or purpose in life, put in all the effort you can give. Even if that means putting in 100 percent to try to get your crush to follow you back on Instagram.

If you want it, go get it.

4. Learn to let go

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Nothing is that serious.

When your dad dedicates most of his time to embarrass you, embrace it. Yes, even when you have one chance to get the picture right and he makes a funny face, just let it happen. One day, you'll miss it.

But on a more serious note, if you continue to hold on to things that make you sad, you will truly never be happy. You will do far greater things in life than dating the boy on the football team (school can't always teach us life lessons, but Taylor Swift can), I promise.

Forgive and forget.

5. Being alone is not always lonely

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Spend time with yourself.

Silence speaks a thousand words; use that silence to learn things about yourself.

This was one that was recently learned. I always felt like I had to have company to have a good time. Now, I feel like an old grandma who enjoys going to dinner or a movie by herself. However, with age there is wisdom, so maybe I am doing something right.

6. Just because you don't talk to someone everyday does not mean they don't care

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Sometimes, when you are taking time for yourself, you don't talk to your friends every day. That IS okay!

We are all adults here; act like it.

I love hanging out with my friends for days straight, but what is even cooler is not talking for a week but still picking up where you left off like nothing happened. Those are the real ones. My younger self would have never believed me on this one.

7. You will meet some really cool people in life

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Zac Brown Band, if you're reading this, just know I love you.

But really, there are things you learn about yourself through other people. Getting out of your comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable, but the benefits of meeting people are far greater than short-term shyness.

Younger Emma, I wish you would have stopped hiding behind people.

8. Nobody knows you better than your mom or sister

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If my mom and sisters were reading this, they would probably laugh at me for this one.

I am so independent that they sometimes think I do not like being around them, but after some thought, they are always the ones I turn to for advice. I wish I would have realized their importance sooner.

You are never too cool to have family as your best friends. Yes, even you Kanye. Chill out with yourself.

9. Unplug more often

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Turn off that TV, put down that phone, and go outside. There is a world to see and people to meet... not online. Crazy concept, I know.

You are not perfect

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Yes, we all have those good hair days, and we think Hannah Montana could never be talking about me. Well, sorry if I am the one breaking this bad news, but nobody is perfect.

However, imperfection is beautiful. Love your flaws and stay humble. Compassion is far more important than judgement. If someone can't fix something in five minutes, don't point it out to them.

Make your heart the most beautiful thing about you.

I thought about adding one where I confess my love for ice cream and how you should never say no to it, but then I remembered my younger self already knew this better than anyone.

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