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.