I was a nervous eight year old, back in 2004. I did not know anyone who was going to be attending camp, but I was hopeful camp was going to be fun. I started to get comfortable with the camp scene in the first couple of days. I was learning about the 4 R’s, getting excited at torchlights, and enjoyed water skiing on the lake. I vividly remember Trojan/Spartan initiation, our cabin singsong to Toxic by Britney Spears, and receiving my camp nickname A.C from the Scats at the time Anne Berry and Abby Green. I felt like I found a place filled with love and gratitude that was set apart from my real home in Houston, TX. I brought my camp life home. My family and I incorporated the echo of time references at the dinner table, my best friend and I wrote singsong’s during the year as Maxi’s, and I looked forward to the camp reunions when we received our yearbooks.
When I think about why I come back, I first think about our community. There is not another place on earth that has a group of people that supports and loves you no matter what. I love telling my campers on the first day of camp how it is okay to be WEIRD. I made up this acronym three years ago when I became the Midi division leader. At the ages of 9-12 years old, there are so many pressures to be ‘cool at school’ or to feel accepted. At camp, we embrace our Wacky, Enthusiastic, Independent, Reliable, and Driven sides. We use these traits to our advantage, and know that here at Camp Champions no one will judge you. Where else can you get excited about the torchlight announcements for laundry day or waking up at 7:30 AM? This also boosts up campers confidence starting from day one. I was raised in this community, and when I became a senior camper, I wanted to give back to the younger generation of campers. I wanted them to realize that this place isn’t just water toys on Lake LBJ or being able to zipline after climbing the rockwall. This community is made up of passionate counselors and leaders who want campers to feel supported and loved every day.
I am forever grateful for my time in the Senior Camper program. Being able to give back to this place as a high schooler opened my eyes to how important this camp meant to me and my friends in the program with me. In Baskin talks, we talked about how technology is ruining our face to face skills, how camp is the best place to learn 21st Century Skills, and the ideals of masculinity and femininity in our world today. We learned to be creative with young mini’s who were too lazy to get from place to place by playing red light, green light. We made cleaning dishes in the back of the fillin station fun by collaborating with our peers to make the process go faster. We wrote mission statements on a mountain in West Texas together as a group. I have rewritten my mission statement a few times, and it comes with me to camp every summer. The memories made in these three years helped shape me into the woman I am today.
Traveling Soldier is a song I started to sing to my adopted Midi cabin to sleep when I was their Scat. This was something that I loved to do after dance nights. Slowly I realized that this song would soon become an important part of nightly rituals in the coming years. I would walk around girls side hearing different campers confidently sing this song that I thought was a peaceful song to fall asleep to. I have sung this song to my campers as a counselor at night, to different cabins as their division leader, and last week on the last night of 3rd term to the same girls from my adoptive cabin who are now going to be counselors next summer.
When we have our counselor meetings, we talk about the ripples of time that we are making on these kids lives. We talk about how right now you might not realize the impact you are making on these kids, but why else would campers want to come back every summer.