A Home Away From Home

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With summer right around the corner, there are many counting down the days until school is out. Though I am excited for that as well, my real countdown is until I can return to my second home – summer camp.

A recurring question I get when people find out I attend sleepaway camp for 7 weeks during summer vacation, is, how could you possibly spend the whole summer there? From the perspective of an avid camp devotee, I find this funny because to me the whole summer is never enough time.

I have been going to each summer to sleepaway camp for six years, and I can firmly say it is an experience you cannot have anywhere else. From the parent perspective, many could criticize mine for letting me stay in a whole other world for the duration of the summer, but I think both my parents and I can agree, it is the best decision they ever made. They too, attended sleepaway camp when they were my age, and are more than willing to grant me the same experiences, and I am eternally grateful.

One cliche that is said constantly about summer camps, that happens to be true is that the friendships made there will last a lifetime. The inseparable bond that is made between cabin mates, from having to clean toilets together to stargazing every night by each other’s side, is irreplaceable. With these people I have made some of my best friends and my greatest memories. You come to be more open and comfortable with them more than anyone else. These are the friends that you can’t stay mad at for more than 5 minutes (I swear it’s impossible). Through the time spent together each summer, you will seriously experience it all with them; loads of laughter, crying tears of joy and pain, screams of excitement and the heartache of having to leave. Even if we have to go almost a full year without seeing each other, there is nothing greater than reuniting again back at camp – it is seriously like you never left in the first place. Thanks to today’s amazing technology, people do not have to go a second without seeing their camp friends, even if they are hundreds of miles away. The hours of facetime calls makes up for the distance, and there is no better feeling than reminiscing great memories made with them at camp.

Another asset to a growing and learning teenager that is predominantly cultivated from the camp experience is independence. On one hand, there are no parents to tell you to clean up your room or wash the dishes after dinner – freedom! On the other hand, who is there to tell you it’s laundry day or wake you up if you oversleep? Yes, of course the counselors are there to help, but not even they can replace a parent. As a camper, you have to learn to take care of yourself, and be a part of the community around you.

Indeed, I can tell you there is no other community like the one you are surrounded by at sleepaway camp. There is a bond you all share that can and will connect you to people you never would have thought you’d associate with. Learning to be a member of a diverse community, will help you acquire social skills that will be used for the rest of your life.

One of my personal favorite camp qualities is the no technology rule. This allows all the campers to completely absorb the camp experience with no distractions. Without technology and essentially any connection outside of the camp bubble (besides snail-mail), one can get an authentic understanding of camp and have some time away from the crazy real world and all of its issues. There are no worries about terrorism or fraud – only what bathing suit you will wear to swim that day. Camp is another dimension; you lose track of time and the days fly by, simply because you are having too much fun and not wasting the time away on your phone. Most importantly, there are no social media pressures, trying to look good for an instagram picture or being someone you are not. Camp is the ideal place to express yourself free of judgement or stress.

Summer camp is all about new experiences and unfamiliar situations. Want to get over your fear of heights? Learn how to swim? Introduce yourself and make friends with a random person? Camp is the time to do it! The camp environment is so incredibly safe and accepting, that everyone is there to support you when you fall (figuratively and literally).

Considering every time I even think about camp, I smile harder, feel brighter and jump a little, it is easily safe to say, attending sleepaway camp was definitely the best decision I’ve made. I can’t even imagine what life would be like without this amazing place where I’ve spent some of the best times of my life.

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A Home Away From Home