Summer. Children giggling, horses trotting, fires blazing, tie dye splattering, bikes whizzing by, sneaky whispers at rest period, and chants of encouragement are all too-familiar sounds during my summer.
For the past five years, I’ve dedicated myself to working at summer camp. Before becoming an employee in the camping industry, I didn’t even know that summer camp really existed. I thought the only way that kind of place occurred was in the movies, and the majority of my thoughts and feelings about the whole concept were influenced by the movie “Parent Trap.” I didn’t know it at the time, but being a counselor that summer completely reshaped who I was, and who I was to become.
Through my years in school, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. Sure, I played sports, got good grades, had some friends, and tried to get involved as much as possible, but it never really fulfilled me. I still always had this thirst for doing something more, lurking in the back of my mind. Thankfully, camp quenched that for me. I was finally in a place where I was accepted for just being me. I didn’t have to hide behind my insecurities anymore. It was a whole other world for me. People in the camping industry that are familiar with this concept like to refer to it as being in “The Camp Bubble.” It’s a strange thing you know, being apart of this bubble. If you think about it, camp is kind of just like any other place. There’s some grass, trees, dirt, and a few buildings. Of course, there’s all the fun activities, but doesn’t an amusement offer just as much thrill? I guess we could say it’s the people, but what are the chances that everyone who comes through camp are any different than the people who work at the mall? No, I think it’s something different. There’s something magical about connecting with complete strangers, outdoors, back to our roots where we’re not influenced by any form of technology, media, or everyday struggles. Without these forces clouding our mind and perceptions, were able to actually think, wonder, ponder, and re-connect with our lost imaginations. Of course, the kids have a lot to do with it as well. I think as adults, we take joy in finding a piece of ourselves in every child, because we can look into those bright eyes and it’s just like looking into a mirror. We see purity, amazement, bewilderment, laughter, honesty. And just like that, our inner child is re-born.
Camp has not only changed my life, it has given me my life.
Maggie Mitchell is from Fenton, Michigan and will be the Campfire Counselor in Senior Chipeta this summer.