On my first day of camp in 08, I wrote a letter home:
Dear Mom and Dad,
Camp is fine so far. My bunk is good but weird. Cami is quiet. Pinsky is crazy, and Katie is my first friend. Please send pringles.
Thought we haven’t written home in a while, we thought we should try again.
Dear Mom and Dad,
Though neither of you nor I knew it at the time, dropping me off at the Queens bus stop was the best gift you’ve ever given me. Though I was scared, had never played a single sport and didn’t talk for the first 3 weeks, I am who I am today because of camp. Growing up in a place where love and encouragement is part of the everyday culture has allowed me to find and be my true self.
Its impossible to remember a time where I wasn’t counting down the days to return, and now I am trying to figure out what life means without the one place that has always been a constant. The thought of letting go of the most secure thing in my life has brought up a lot of emotions, including jealousy. Through the years, we’ve sat in all the rings of this council ring and feel the most envy for the girls in the first ring. I envy that you have more general jump ins. I envy your youth, and more importantly, the time you have left with each other. Don’t take that time for granted. You don’t realize the value of each small moment until they’re in the past.
Now, as we all prepare to reenter what some of us refer to as the “real world”, we wonder why this isn’t the “real world”. Why the real world isn’t having best friends of all ages, getting honored for every small accomplishment, or chickens on the roof. Why the real world isn’t filled with as much beauty, love, empowerment, and support as this place. If camp has taught me anything, it is to embody these ideals and take them wherever I go.
Barbara and Allison: We owe everything here to you. We respect and love the place you’ve created and fostered here. Our gratitude is endless.
Jane and Shari: The compassion you bring and offer makes us feel right at home. Your advice and guidance has helped us become the counselors we are today. Aunty and Grandma Jane, we couldn’t have done this without you.
Leslie, Nagel, and Grobie: In each of your own ways, your love for camp shines through in a way that draws people to you. Whether it’s on the water, or on the fields, you have made our summers what they are.
Stock: This place wouldn’t function without you. Not only because you schedule every moment, but because you care and appreciate every moment too. It’s been said and said and over said, but you truly are superwoman.
Jen: We’re all lucky enough to call you our camp mom, but I feel so lucky to have your warmth and constant caring over the year too. You put everything you have into this place, and we admire your patience and positivity.
22: A few weeks ago, Daniella asked me if growing older was hard. At the time, I said yes, but I would like to change my answer. When I’m with you, I swear I’m 15 again. The way you have brought us into your bunk has shaped my camp career more than you could ever know.
Each of you bring something different and positive, and it’s easy to see you’ll be a bunk that makes a lasting impact on this place for years to come. We’re so grateful to have been able to share this summer with you. We love you.
23: The most interesting and crazy group of girls I know. Being able to watch you guys grow these past few summers has been one of my most rewarding experiences. You’ve given me more memories than I can count, and I’ll forever be grateful. You each have a unique love for camp and each other that shines through in everything you do. I know the fear of not living under the same roof as 17 of your best friends. I was once in your shoes. I can’t wait until you’re all lucky enough to find a group of campers who make you feel like you have a new bunk like you guys have done for me. Love you all so much.
Fifteens: We have felt literally every emotion with or at you, but now we just can’t help but feeling overwhelming proud of the people and the counselors you’ve become. You’ve take what being a counselor means to the next level, and we’ve watched you pass on our love for camp to the next generation.
No matter where we are, or where we go after this summer, we are who we are because we were 16 together. We’ve been good eggs and bad eggs, but whatever we do we do together. You’re my biggest supporters, defenders, and entertainers.
We thank Camp for giving you all to us, but we know it goes far beyond that. This place is my favorite place because I was able to share it with you.
Imagining this place continuing on without us is terrifying, but it’s also the sole idea that keeps me going. The face that I was able to give back to the place that has given me everything , and the girls in coming years will feel that way too, makes everything truly worth it.
Even when you leave camp, it stays with you. Everything you’ve done, the people you’ve me, the songs you’ve learned, the s’mores you’ve eaten, you take that wherever you go. It’s all with you each and every day so you’ll never really have to live without this magical place.
As reality sets in that end is here. I’ve been reflecting on what camp has taught me. It’s taught me compassion, kindness, and that being weird isn’t only the norm, but cool. Above all, it taught me that saying goodbye isn’t letting go.
A lot has changed since 08. I know that Cami is not so quiet. Pinsky is still crazy. Katie will forever be my first camp friend. I still crave pringles. But most importantly, I’ve changed and grown in those 12 summers. So mom and dad. Thanks again. Thank you for giving me something so beautiful, it’s impossible to move on.
Sally, Sair, and Channing