Eleven months ago, I started my annual application to Americamp with the assumption I would probably once again not submit. For five years I’ve been dreaming of working on a summer camp with kids in America, yet every year I’ve been too scared to actually press the submission button. This year, however, something was different; this year, I needed to change.
When I had my first interview for camp, I was bouncing off the walls. Every emotion under the sun hit me full on in the face. I was beyond excited to spend my summer abroad, proud that I was actually taking charge and following my dream, scared of rejection, failure, and disappointment. As May grew closer, my doubts grew, and I seriously began to wonder if I was capable of this job, but as you may have read in my last post, these doubts slowly were diminished (or at least pushed aside!).
At the beginning of camp, I wrote myself a letter telling myself to be brave, to pull through and build on myself. I know I’m not the person I used to be, nor the person I want to be. I have goals to be more confident in myself, to be happier and more positive. The past few years have taken such a toll on my mentality and while I was going to camp to help the kids, a major part of the experience was to help me.
Back in August as I was entering my final week at camp, I was given the letter I had actually forgotten I had written and was surprised by the amount of self-doubt I had expressed. The letter that had seemed so helpful and well intended at the beginning of the summer now showed me the little faith I had in my ability when I first started. I couldn’t help but feel proud as I sat on the lodge porch and looking back over everything I had achieved in the past couple of months.
I have some of the most amazing memories from my time at camp that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life. One of my favourites, and definitely the most rewarding, was with one of the 8 year olds I had in my cabin. She had the most amazing imagination and every morning she would tell me fantastic stories of her time in ‘Meepily Land’. A country in another dimension where she saved the Meepily people from an evil clown like villain named Jack Juke and, in return, they made her Queen. She would go on adventures with the Meepily’s to ride pink elephants and learn magic. I spent the week encouraging her to write her stories down but she constantly would say it wasn’t good enough and she couldn’t do it. Finally, on the last full day, she came running over to me, screaming my name, with a wad of paper and popsicle sticks with googly eyes. She had made a fully illustrated puppet book of her story. As she went through the book with me, I honestly felt my eyes fill with tears at how proud I felt of her. That moment was truly one of the best memories I think I’m ever going to have and I’m so thankful I had the chance to build on her confidence in just a few short days.
The summer flew by and was jam packed of amazing experiences from working at the camp to our 4th July get away in Chicago (complete with my first Cubs game and a speedboat ride!) My weekends were filled with trips to a Chicago Fire game, the cinema, bonfires, lake trips, sunset tubing, and a whole series of laughs. Working at camp had plenty of its own adventures as I braved leading a group of campers through a claustrophobic’s nightmare of a tight and incredibly dark cave!
I still have a long way to go but I learnt so much during this and I’ll be forever grateful for the experience and friends I’ve made. They taught me the important of a positive mindset and showed me that even if you have to fake it for a minute, it will take you further than you ever thought possible. Kindness only takes a moment and can truly make someone else’s day. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you, you can be yourself without concerning yourself of the thoughts of other people because those you matter don’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter. Finally, I’m still pushing myself with this one, but I learning to be brave. The best experiences come from the moments that scare you and the feeling you get when you’ve completed a difficult challenge is far better than sitting on the side watching other people have fun. (Definitely making it my goal to conquer the high ropes next year!)
I’m definitely going to miss the community and friendships I’ve made this summer and fully think I could easily stay at camp full time! (Hint hint Badger!) But, for now, I have so much more of the world to see! I know this isn’t goodbye, however, there’s definitely always next year!
A.K.A. Lumos xoxo
P.s. If you want a more visual check of what I got up to this summer, check out my friend Nick’s vlogs! He made a couple of our time at camp (and a few other places I’ll shortly be getting into!)
(I’ve skipped episodes 3 & 4 as they aren’t camp related but I’ll touch on those in the next post don’t worry!)