I walked out of the Dining Hall, the sunlight greeted my eyes and I began blinking rapidly as I adjusted to both the bright light and to the idea that my family was driving away. I was an eleven year old with two vast weeks of complete and utter unknown staring me dead on. As I stood outside, adjusting to my surroundings, I was also faced with a choice. My options were: r run up to my cabin and hide my pooling tears, or walk over to Front Fire Patrol and say hello to a girl who I remembered meeting in my cabin earlier that day. I chose to chase after that girl, and when she noticed my blinking eyes, she grabbed my hand and took me down the hill to archery where we learned to shoot our first bow and arrow. It was a big moment and a big day for my eleven year old self—full of choices, independence, learning, and new experiences. In that moment, of that day, I fell in love with Camp Carysbrook. When I reflect upon that day I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Through my summers at Carysbrook I have become the person I am today, and for each of those summer days I will be forever grateful.
As I approach my tenth summer I have compiled a list of the top 10 things I am grateful to have experienced, learned and developed during my time at Carysbrook.
1.) Friendship – At Carysbrook I learned the true value of friendship—friendship that is based purely off common interest and sincere similarity. Because camp friends represent a different kind of friendship—you do not get to see each other for 9 months out of the year, age, race, and beliefs are not factors of importance and camp friends know more about you than any of your other friends. Camp friends love camp just as much as you do, and I am grateful to have made lifelong friendships at Camp Carysbrook.
2.) Outdoor skills – It never ceases to make me laugh when I return home, share stories about my summer and watch my friend’s and family’s faces of disbelief. I can be simply discussing the harmless black snake that slithered through the field or describing the bat I saw flying through the trees; they are always surprised by the rustic nature of camp. But I am proud that I know how to remove a moth from a building and build a fire— I am grateful that camp gave me the chance to develop practical skills.
3.) Confidence – Every year I return Camp has helped to shape my confidence further. During my years as a camper I learned to have confidence in myself, in my own personal skills, and in my voice. I found when I was able to identify with others over our shared love of Carysbrook that it was easy to be myself. As a counselor I have found confidence is sharing myself, skills and voice with our camp community. I am grateful to have been a confident camper and now a confident counselor.
4.) Creativity –No matter the time of day or weather camp boasts a gorgeous natural environment. The land is a common denominator whose constant change prompts campers and staff alike to embrace creativity. Whether it is in a new Arts & Crafts project or the colors of a friendship bracelet, the natural world of camp is reflected. I am grateful to have spent time in a beautiful environment that fosters pursuing creative endeavors.
5.) Passion –Ask almost any camper what they look forward to most, and they will tell you, without skipping a beat, that they absolutely cannot wait until camp this summer. And the same is true for staff members and the parents of campers. We all understand the importance and the magic of Camp Carysbrook. I am grateful that at the age of eleven I found a place that inspires passion.
6.) Compassion – Every member of our community brings their own story to the summer. We not only welcome each story, but we celebrate them. Carysbrook is a place that celebrates differences; it is a safe place to both express and explore those differences. I am grateful that Carysbrook offers an atmosphere of understanding and compassion.
7.) Flexibility –Even though camp’s schedule is the same from day to day every moment of every day is very different. People come and go, activities change, and it can be raining one minute and sunny the next. We adapt as a whole to our surroundings and the forever changing situations. I am grateful that I understand the importance change, both big and small—and that change is okay.
8.) Communication – Every member of our community brings their own skills to the table and each of those skills is an integral part of the summer. We need everyone to be a cohesive unit and so at camp I have learned to ask for help. We can learn so much for those surrounding us. I am grateful to understand the value of clear and direct communication.
9.) Leadership –The people that I admire most I met at Camp Carysbrook. As I progressed through my years at Carysbrook I learned how to be a good and effective leader by observing and listening to those around me. I am grateful to have mentors with high leadership standards.
10.) Purpose – As a current senior in college the question “so what are you going to do when you graduate?” is constantly being asked of me. To that particular question I do not yet have a long-term response. However typically the follow-up question is, “well, what do you like to do?” and to that I am sure of my response. I love to work with people and I learned that about myself at camp. I am grateful to have discovered what I love to do.