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I like Camp!

Posted By Julia Sklar On September 23, 2007 @ 11:25 pm In Centerfold | Comments Disabled

Middle school is a place teeming with self-conscious adolescents. A time when it is impossible for many students to be who they are because no one really knows what that means yet. When these same people get to high school, some level of uncertainty remains, but it is eventually replaced with a new found confidence.

It is not, however, a hop, skip, and a jump from one situation to the other. Students don’t just walk into Newton South and magically transform. There must be a connecting piece, an in between, some place to grow.

For me that place was overnight camp. Every summer since I was 13, I have gone “home” for four weeks. Yes, my home that I know, the one with the legal address, is located in Newton Centre, but my other home is located at Camp Med-O-Lark. Med-O-Lark is located in the tiniest town I’ve ever visited, where the residences of the entire population fit around one four mile long lake. Yet it has had the largest and most lasting effect on me than any other place I’ve ever been.

I felt brave going into my first day of camp with complete strangers. I got to my cabin early that day. There was only one other girl in it, and we instantly bonded over the enormous stacks of books we had both brought to camp. Soon, the buses arrived and all 300 of the camp’s second session residents filled the atmosphere. When the other girls in my cabin arrived and found out I was new, they bore ear-to-ear smiles. I was immediately surrounded in a claustrophobic but overtly loving circle. They showed me the ropes and gave me encouraging smiles reassuring that I would have a blast at camp.

I did have a blast. No wait, not just a blast, but an indescribably blissful experience.

I remain best friends with every girl who surrounded me that day, including a girl I had once known but considered my “mortal enemy.” That’s what Med-O-Lark can do: turn enemies into best friends, and best friends into family.

I can’t speak for every camp, but I know at my camp no one is judgmental in the least. In fact, the absence of judgment at Med-O-Lark is almost surreal. My friends have seen me at my highest and lowest, and I can say the same for them. We’ve seen each other wear radiant smiles, cry hopelessly over homesickness, complain after not showering for three days, and conversely look beautiful and crazy for the uniquely-themed senior dances.

Even after all these things, my camp friends are people who love genuinely and unconditionally no matter what the circumstances.

Med-O-Lark has something else up its sleeve to offer besides a second family; it gives its campers an invaluable and indispensable gift: confidence.

Med-O-Lark’s artsy, hippie, “be who you want to be” vibe showed me that it didn’t matter what brand of clothes I wear, what music I am enjoy, what books I read, or who I hang out with. Med-O-Lark taught me that the only thing that matters is if I am happy, and if I am, then I will be able to find like-minded people.

This is about when I usually tell the rain boot anecdote, so here it goes. I went to Filene’s Basement one afternoon in the fall of eighth grade before my second summer at Med-O-Lark, not out of necessity, but out of my sheer desire for new things. I passed a rack of colorfully ordained knee-high rain boots.

At first, I gave them no notice. As a humble eighth grader, I was not the type of person who would wear something that flashy. Then I realized that they would be perfect for rainy days at Med-O-Lark! Little did I know that the ensuing summer, a camp wide mud fight would break out in a puddle that encompassed the entire field and a kayak, and these rain boots would come in handy.

I purchased my choice of blue, pink, and brown striped Wellington rain boots with the coming summer at Med-O-Lark in mind.

One day a few weeks after my second summer at camp, it was raining “cats and dogs” and in a sudden fit of Med-O-Lark-style confidence, I decided to wear my crazy boots to school.

When the bus left the stop, I panicked. What was I thinking? I couldn’t wear these to school! At Med-O-Lark I was different, bolder, and more out going, but at school I was the typical, bland eighth grader, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to show my Med-O-Lark inspired colors at school. But life would have it that whether I wanted to or not, I was wearing those boots to school.

It just so happened that I got a lot of “Hey! Awesome boots!” from teachers and students alike that day. While wearing rain boots to school may not seem like a huge deal, I am positive that in wearing those boots I realized that it wasn’t only okay to be confident at Med-O-Lark, it was okay to be confident all of the time.

Of course I admit that as a high school student, I still have my days where my confidence doesn’t shine as much as I want it to. If I had not been to Med-O-Lark, however, my confidence wouldn’t shine at all.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/09/23/i-like-camp/

URLs in this post:

[1] British counselor finds friends at American camp: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/british-counselor-finds/

[2] Camp for Newtonites…is it different?: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/09/23/camp-for-newtonitesis-it-different/

[3] Why leave Camp? Don’t you just love it!: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/09/23/why-leave-camp-dont-you-just-love-it/

[4] Senior Sofya Rozenblat answers questions about her transition from camper to counselor.: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/09/23/senior-sofya-rozenblat-answers-questions-about-her-transition-from-camper-to-counselor/

[5] Camp sows seeds for future: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/09/24/camp-sows-seeds-for-future/

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