As humans, we take being alive for granted every single day. From our impatience for traffic, to our frustrations with our fantasy football teams, we often forget how lucky we are to be able to breathe. We’re only alive for X number of years, yet we waste so much of it worrying. Sometimes we worry about important things like school and work, but most of the time it’s trivial, worrying about if there will be chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies at milk call. Yet, at the end of our lives, we are not left with worries about cookies or fantasy football, but rather memories. We will remember the good times; we will remember the bad times; but most importantly we will remember growing up and going through the phases of this tricky thing called “life.” We only get one life. We only experience these X number of years once, and yet we still seem to take it for granted. The sooner we place an importance on appreciating growing up and going through the phases of life, the sooner we forget our worries and focus on our enjoyment. I’ll admit, when I was 9 years old and first walked into camp, I was taking life for granted. I was focused on my worries (yes, the cookies), and it was distracting me from truly making the most out of each moment. When I walked into camp I thought it would just be a place to spend my summers. Just a place to make some good memories that I’ll have when I’m older. This attitude stayed with me for a while. In fact, it stayed with me for pretty much my entire camp career. For most of my time at camp I saw it as a place to make friends, to run around and play. But each summer I spent my attitude changed. Each summer I spent I became a little closer to the people I originally saw as “just friends.” Yes, there were times where we didn’t get along. Usually it was when someone’s frustrations and worries about sweeping and dust panning put them in a bad mood, which in turn put the bunk in a bad mood. But what I didn’t realize until now was that we were in a bad mood together. We were experiencing these emotions and frustrations about sweeping and dust panning together, and subconsciously learning how to treat each other better. Contrarily, while the sun was out and we were laughing and playing, we were laughing and playing together, and learning about our likes and dislikes together. We were experiencing happiness together. We were eating chocolate chip cookies and milk … together. That’s the beautiful thing about camp and lifelong friends. We experience the same stages of life at the same time. But not only do we experience them at the same time, we experience them together. We’re spending our X number of years being alive on this Earth at the same time, sharing experiences, and learning and growing together. From children, to tweens, to teenagers, to young adults, a bunk grows up with one another. We learn to respect each other. We learn that not everyone has the same life and that we need to be tolerant. We learn how to understand people and be appreciative. The thing is, we don’t even realize it. We go through our entire camp careers without knowing that core values and keys to being genuinely good people are being instilled within us. When I went to college, I noticed that others didn’t have the same people skills as I did. It seemed as though I had emotionally matured faster than those around me, and I owe it all to camp. After noticing this, I felt a sort of unexplainable nostalgia and a longing to be back at camp. All I wanted to do was to drop everything and go back. To go back to the place where I learned to be tolerant. To go back to the place where I went through the phases of life with my best friends. To go back to the place where I learned how to be a better person without even knowing it. Camp isn’t just a place to spend your summers. Camp isn’t just a place to play in the sun. It’s a place where we develop unparalleled friendships that grow from shared experiences which rapidly emotionally matures us. It’s these experiences that make us realize why we keep going. It’s these experiences that help us persevere through the tough times by making us look forward to the next summer. It’s these experiences which make memories – the memories that we will be left with at the end of our lives.
Each summer we spend at Camps Baco and Chenawah makes us a little more grateful to be alive.