5 Things I Know To Be True About Camp

Five Things I Know To Be True About Camp by Counselor Marvin
When I arrived at Camp Woodmont in 2013, I was fresh off a plane from four months in London, England and completely unprepared for what I’d signed on for: three months in the mountains of North Georgia as a camp counselor. My parents were admittedly baffled when I arrived home and unpacked my bags, only to pack them again. “You don’t know the first thing about the outdoors. What have you gotten yourself into?” they asked. It was a question I couldn’t answer, but I was keeping an open mind. I couldn’t return to reality yet; I needed time to let my semester abroad sink-in. Lo and behold, I didn’t get time to let my semester abroad sink in. What I got, instead, was the best summer of my life. Even now with that summer nearly three years in the past, I find it hard to articulate what I experienced on top of Lookout Mountain, but I’ll give it a go. Here are five things I know to be true about camp:
1.  At camp you learn more about yourself in one day than you do in one month in the real world. And that’s not an exaggeration. At camp, every day is a transformative experience. I can’t count the amount of times a camper has told me, “There’s no way I’ll ever be able to make it to the top of the Leap of Faith. It’s so high,” or “I’ve never been on a horse before; I’m scared,” only to watch them conquer that fear minutes later. As for me? I learned I’m not completely out of my element in the wilderness (creek stomping is actually my favorite family time activity). Take that, Mom and Dad.
2.  At camp you meet the most spectacular group of people, and they will inevitably become your best friends. When I arrived at Woodmont in 2013, I saw the people I was going to be working with for the next three months and thought, I’m gonna hate this summer. Everyone was so vastly different than me; how would we ever get along? But that’s the beauty of an experience like camp: you’re forced to look over what separates you from others and, instead, find the similarities you share. Plus, what’s cooler than having best friends all over the country? I have at least a dozen options for vacation.
3.  Camp is sort of like s’mores, you can’t just have one (or in this case, you can’t go just once). Of course, once I got a taste of Camp Woodmont, I couldn’t stay away. Even now, with my third summer just five months behind me, I’m counting down the days till I can go back. My mom always tells me I’m wishing my life away. Now, I don’t think that’s true; I do enjoy my life for the nine months camp isn’t in session. Nevertheless, Camp Woodmont feels like the home I never knew I was missing and when I’m there everything is right with the world.
4.  Once camp is over, you will try and try (and fail and fail) to articulate what it means to you. It’s one of the more sad things about life after camp—you can’t ever fully share your experience with anyone who hasn’t lived it. What that meant for me was annoyed friends who begged me to stop talking about camp and a mom who couldn’t understand why I only wanted to sleep (PCD or Post-Camp Depression is a very real thing). When that song comes on at K-Mart (the one every camper requested at snack time, the one you woke up singing because you couldn’t ever get it out of your head), you’ll be simultaneously sad and happy. Sad that there’s no one to share the memory with but happy that the memory is all yours. Much of my post-camp life is spent in this SAPPY mood—missing people and places but blessed to have something/ someone worth missing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
5.  What I know to be true is this: Camp is the most magical place I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. Yes, more magical than Big Ben with a fresh coat of pearly-white snow or the tulip gardens of Amsterdam in early spring. Even more magical than watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the foggy darkness out beyond your hostel window. Camp is: going to sleep with the smell of fire throughout your cabin, laughing harder than you ever have in your life, eating more quesadilla pizza than you should and then sleeping it off during Turtle Time, picking blackberries by the pasture and watching the horses run over the hill, getting soaked in the rain and drying your shoes by the fan in the bathhouse. Camp is: crying harder than you ever have in your life, saying goodbye to people you don’t know if you’ll see again, looking for shooting stars in the A-Field, wishing you could do it all over again. Camp is: looking in the rearview mirror as you slowly pull down the gravel driveway and saying to yourself: I’m not done with you yet. Until next year, you beautiful, little slice of paradise.