exciting letter

Today, we got a letter from a 5th year camper – lets call her Linda Ma’am.  She had just finished her first year of our Senior Camper program (i.e., high school leadership program) and wanted to share some thoughts about it.

I share this because she came close to not even returning her second year.

She came first as a 4th grader.  She enjoyed camp a lot and insisted that mom reregister for camp the next year.

In the off-season, however, she began to get second thoughts.  This is actually very common.   Around winter, enthusiastic campers often experience second thoughts.  Perhaps they had a tough day at school with friends and then start to doubt themselves socially.  Or, they might have had a great day with friends and suddenly wonder if the friends will still be friends after three weeks at camp.  They might suddenly remember the 2 days (out of the 14 or 21) that they were homesick and then convince themselves that they were homesick the whole time.

Later, I will share a blog about the internal battle between a child’s inner warrior (the confident, challenge-loving side of the personality) and the inner worrier (the scared, risk-averse side).  When a happy camper becomes a reluctant one, he or she is letting the worrier overrun the warrior.

In the case of Linda Ma’am, she had some mild discomfort with the lake.  In the months that followed camp, this discomfort became an ever-growing fear.  By December, she asked her mom to cancel camp.

Susie Ma’am talked with the mom and with Linda Ma’am and helped get her comfortable enough to come to camp a second year.  She then came 2 years more as a camper and again this summer as a Senior Camper.

This is her letter:

“Dear Molly Ma’am (the Senior Camper division leader),

I miss camp dearly.  This is the first time that I’ve been able to notice a change in the way I think and act.  Now, after camp, I have more confidence in myself.  I know that I have the power to make the smart decision and that there is no reason to second –guess myself.  I have more patience with my brothers and I notice just how much unhappiness is around me at school.  Now, I know how to fix it.

I don’t think I got a chance to fully thank you for what you did for me this term.  I never thought I would be able to be so open and loving to 18 other girls and so many others at camp.  I’ve realized that being shy is like having everyone else see you as a blurry image.  This way, no one is able to see all of your bad attributes.  But, also, this blurry image hides your good attributes at the same time.  I can now say I’m happily a crystal-clear image of myself – all thanks to you and camp.

I would also like to share some of the things that I am grateful for.

  1. Scary caves that are more eye-opening than anything (the 9th graders went on a retreat that included caving)
  2. Counselors that put you before themselves
  3. A group of girls that accept who you truly are and love you for it.
  4. A Division Leader that is there at all the right moments
  5. Putting chickens in 007’s cabin – they deserved it (the 9th grade boys – an approved and well-supervised prank)
  6. More opportunities that I can count - courtesy of Camp Champions
  7. Camp friends.  They are the best friends.
  8. Steve Sir and Susie Ma’am for challenging me mentally.
  9. Smile.  Nothing is better than spreading happiness.

Thanks for reading my letter.

All the best!

Linda Ma’am”

We find it particularly exciting when campers start to realize some of the gifts of camp.  To a 10 year-old boy, camp is fun.  To a 13 year-old girl, camp is about friends.  Do not get me wrong – we are huge fans of both.  But we also value the confidence, self-awareness and leadership that develop over time.  When a camper figures it out on his or her own, that is truly rewarding.

Steve Sir

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