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Donna

Kent

1993

Medill McCormick

Illinois

Compliance Manager

"I had heard stories from friends who had been to Camp America and I wanted to try it for myself.  It truly was the best summer of my life.  I took home so many memories, made so many friends; I learned at lot at camp. 

Camp taught me tonnes. Practical stuff like cooking, camping skills, games, but also to be understanding of people, that not everyone's the same,  to bite my tongue!  To let a spider walk across my hand without freaking out.  To grab every opportunity going and live life to the full.

My favourite memory...  it wasn’t my favourite at the time, but now I look back on it, it really was a lovely time.  It was about week 7 and we were walking the kids back to their parents through the fields after their week at camp -  it was a beautiful summer’s evening.  All the kids were really happy.  We’d had a really good week.  We sang a goodbye song.  And then I just got so upset and burst into tears.  I knew that shortly my time was coming to an end at the camp.  I felt sad to have met so many wonderful children, families and friends and wondered if I would ever see them again when it was all over.  I was nervous about going travelling on my own afterwards.  I felt so safe and secure at camp and it seemed so daunting for the next stage!  My close friends cuddled me and made me laugh about it in the end.  However, now I look back it was so normal to feel the way I did.  It had been an amazing summer, and I really didn’t want it to end.

Camp friends are different because you live with them day in day out, experience good times and hard times.  You learn patience, understanding, and how to cheer someone up when they are down.  You laugh like you have never laughed before!  You form such close bonds with people. For the first year I wrote to loads of my friends and some of the children.  As time wore on I lost contact with most, but Jenn, Charlotte and Michelle all came to visit me in the UK a year later.  Charlotte also brought one of her friends with her to the UK,  Brenda.  I then came back to the USA a year later for a holiday to bring my partner and went to visit lots of my friends and the places I had been.  Jenn, Charlotte and Brenda I keep in contact with via Facebook.  Jenn and I sometimes Skype.  I also kept in contact with the Camp Cook Katy by letter initially, and now by Facebook and Christmas cards.  Brenda came back this year for another visit after 25 years!! 

After camp I travelled for 2 months all around the USA and some parts of Canada, on the Greyhound bus, planes and by car.  Amazing memories from that!  I still have my diary for that year with details of every place I visited and every person I met along the way!  

Every time I look up at the stars at night and see the “big dipper” I think of my time at camp, sitting by a fire, with friends around me, having had a good day, and looking up at that cluster of stars and all of us saying “when this is over and we are home always look at the stars to remember each other”.  I still do, 25 years later! Camp gave me confidence that I could travel alone.  It made me feel I could accomplish anything if I just at least tried."

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