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By Camp America on 14/09/2016
I went to camp looking for a break from studying after a particularly gruelling year of uni. I had wanted to do Camp America for a while but never got round to it.
I was hoping to have one more adventure in the last long summer before final year, and maybe make a difference to a couple of campers if I was lucky. What really happened was more than I ever could have imagined, and the impact of that one summer at camp still ripples through my life even now that it's nearly a whole year since I left.
The camp magic did not waste any time! I vividly remember the very first day, the first hour even, finding myself falling around on the grass laughing after a particularly competitive round of Star Wars thumb wars. I thought to myself, Wow! When was the last time I did something for no other reason than just for fun?! It seems simple, but it was a stark contrast to the stress and deadline filled life I had left on hold at home. It was the first of hundreds of moments like this, just genuine, raw joy that you experience all through the summer when you're at camp.
I was the 'Mad Science' specialist and spent my days in a little yurt in the woods launching rockets and making lava lamps. It was the most fun I have ever had and I was constantly surprised by the campers' creativity and excitement for everything. One day at lunch one of my most enthusiastic little scientists came up to me and dropped the casual bombshell that she had decided she was going to be a science teacher when she grew up because of me. I was speechless. I couldn't believe that I had actually made a difference to this girl's life and what's more I couldn't believe the effect that she had on my life as a result. She will probably never know what she did for me by saying that, but it undid so much of the damage three stressed years at uni had done and it will stay with me forever.
These stories, and many many more that I would need months to tell you, changed me and sent me back to uni with a very different attitude than before. I turned up for my final year with a much better outlook on what was really important in my life. I took better care of myself and remembered to have a break and some fun once in a while. I didn't base my identity on my grades anymore and dealt better with it when I didn't do as well as I had hoped. All this has stayed with me even now that I have graduated and moved onto a different stage in my life.
Camp is good for the soul. You will be exhausted; you will be too hot to function; you will never be able to get the last of the slime out your hair or spaghetti off your yurt floor; but you will come home changed from all, good and bad, you have experienced, and you will never be quite the same again.
Jesscia - Green Chimneys Clearpool Camp (2015)
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