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The women of 7-11 at sunset.

The Girls side of camp has a tradition called “7-11 Letters”.

7-11 is the name of the cabin for young women who just finished 9th grade. They are in the first year of our Senior Camper (high school leadership) Program. One of the greatest sources of joy for us is to watch our former campers (and some new ones as well) decide to join this program. Other camps consider our high school program one of the best. The Partnership for 21st Century Learning has named us one of only 4 non-school programs to be an Exemplar program. Our core belief is that young people want to have agency, give back and earn respect from others.

If you are cynical about teenagers, these young people will help you become more hopeful.

Anyway, the Senior Campers on the girls side write letters to the camp that they share on the second Sunday of a session. Please allow me to share one of the better ones here. I am withholding her name to respect her privacy.

Dear Girls’ Side,

My name is [7-11 Camper Name] and this is my second year at camp. Though my experience isn’t comparable to the time most of you have spent, this camp has helped me navigate the trajectory of my life. To help you understand, I take you to Fine Arts. One day, little me received clay to make the infamous pinch pot. Molding the clay - which got everywhere – into a circle, pinch by pinch, it began to resemble a deformed, but unique, pot. Though unable to actually fit anything into it, its pinching possibilities seemed to me endless. My name carved into the base was a reminder that it was something I forged myself.

Much like camp, this pot exemplified the entity of a champion: hard-working, collaboration, resilience, and exceeding expectations to not break.

When I first got to camp, I was a homesick girl. But through structure, independence, friends, and staff, camp has brought me out of my shell and showed me how to forge my own pot. The right amount of force (or reasonable risks) can reap some mighty rewards.

In “moving against the current” as Steve Sir has said, you can become the individual you are meant to be, a true champion. From dancing on top of tables before the Wednesday dance to sore muscles after daily swims, camp has allowed me to learn that I wield the power to discover possibilities I had not imagine before.

Campers, please reach out to your wonderful counselors and all your cabinmates – the people that help make this place home for so many.

And so, as I have learned, be an artist and like that pinch pot, make your world, mix your paints and you’ll be unstoppable.

With love,

[7-11 Camper Name]