August 5, 2016
As I sat down to write my blog, Susie Ma’am told me to stop.
“I just got an email. You are not going to write a better blog than this.”
The email is from Katie Dubrof, a young woman who just graduated from the Senior Camper program and is writing her college essays. After writing one about family, she sent this email.
Hi Susie Ma’am!
I just wanted to share my college essay with you because it’s all about camp and I wanted to let you know, even though you probably already do, how much camp means to me. The prompt asks you to discuss your family and the environment you were raised in and I immediately knew I should write about camp. Thanks for the greatest eleven years, I owe so much to camp.
I am lucky enough to have a close and loving family, not to mention absolutely crazy. This family consists of my mom, dad, and two insanely protective older brothers. In addition to my family at home, I am also extremely fortunate to have my camp family. Although not technically blood-related to me or certainly not the conventional kinship, my camp family, the people I’ve known for eleven summers of my life, know even more about me than the parents and brothers with whom I actually live. Despite the fact that I’m only at camp for three weeks out of the whole year, I’ve forged lifelong bonds and cherished relationships that I can only describe as family.
I started going to Camp Champions when I was six. Any time you throw a six-year-old girl into a three-week sleep-away camp for the first time ever, you’ll most likely get the same results: complete crisis. I cried every day, and my brothers, sacrificing their own limited time at camp, did their best to console me. I guess you could say their comforts were a success, because by the end of those three initial weeks, I had fallen in love with the entire camp experience. I guess eleven summers at camp makes that pretty obvious.
Like I said, I’m only at camp for three of the fifty-two weeks in a year, but despite this finite amount of time, the girls I met my first year there have grown up with me and remain closer to me than friends I see every day at home. When we aren’t at camp, we campers are all constantly texting each other, venting about our “home problems” or reminiscing on the memories we’ve experienced together. Whether we have problems with our friends from home or just need to talk, I can always trust that I won’t be judged, just accepted. With these girls and the rest of my family back at camp, quirkiness is not avoided; instead, it’s celebrated!
Since I was little, camp has instilled meaningful values in me. Starting with their “Four R’s” – respect, responsibility, reaching out, and reasonable risks – I learned from the get-go the importance of making my own bed, treating others with respect, making new friends, and doing things outside of my comfort zones. As I grew up, however, I learned the more subtle, meaningful lessons from my time at camp: to accept myself, quirks and all, and to do the same for everyone else. Eventually, I learned who I want to be and what I want to make of my life.
Camp is an experience of true self-discovery. This past year was my final year before I become a counselor, and when it’s your last year, you get the opportunity to take everything you’ve learned about yourself, whether at home or at camp, and utilize them to write your own personal mission statement. Honestly, I was nervous to begin. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write, but as soon as I started, the pen just flew on the paper. All I had learned about myself in eleven years just started to flow out of me. Who I am at camp is my best self, and in writing about myself at Camp Champions, I realized I needed to take that non-judgmental, compassionate person back home with me when the three weeks are done each year. In my mission statement, I set important goals and made promises to myself: I will be confident and trust that I can be loved and appreciated; I will live my life with intent, purpose and an honest mindset; I will demonstrate unbiased acceptance toward others and expect the same in return. Mantras like these are not only examples of what I put in my mission statement, but are also the way I have decided to live my life.
Had I not been raised in the positive environment of Camp Champions, I know I would be a completely different person, a bit more superficial, maybe even shallow, definitely more materialistic, and less thoughtful. Thanks to my camp family, I know that I have more depth as a person. I also believe that I have a better and more realistic grasp on what’s truly important in life. I will always be profoundly thankful for the values and mindset that my camp family has instilled upon me. [END ESSAY]
We have been blessed to have Katie Ma’am part of our lives and look forward to seeing her in the future. Put simply, essays like this one help us weather the 40 weeks each year between camp seasons. Knowing that “camp” continues to exists in the “real world” is our ultimate goal. Thank you for sharing Katie Ma’am!
PS Katie Ma’am is the second from the left on the bottom row.