Thanks for Sending Me to Sleep-Away Camp, Mom and Dad

by Stefanie Blumer

We really wait 10 months for 2.

IMG_2851 IMG_2850Call me crazy for almost being in my 20’s and still being completely obsessed and in love with my summer camp. Like they say, there is no place like [a second] home. I understand camp isn’t for everyone, especially sleep-away, but honestly I cannot thank my parents enough for giving me this amazing opportunity and life changing experience.

Call me even crazier for telling you that sleep-away camp has taught me almost everything I need to know about surviving in the real world, but it’s true. I learned how to communicate with others, step out of my comfort zone and deal with unexpected situations almost immediately. Even though there was always someone by my side or to look up to, I learned how to become independent, which has truly prepared me for something as scary as going to college all the way across the country from where I live. Camp gave me the courage and confidence to do this, and without it I do not know where I would be.

When I spent my first summer away from home when I was just eight years old, I was scared out of my mind to leave my family. I knew I was going to a place with hundreds of unfamiliar faces for seven weeks. Yup, I am definitely crazy. I was mentally preparing myself for the first day, where I would meet nine other new girls that I would be living with and literally do everything together. There was always the possibility of feeling uncomfortable, which was extremely normal, but just after three days, I felt like I had known these girls forever. Instantly, they became not only my best friends, but my sisters.

What’s EXTREMELY crazy is I lived without texting and Facebook for two months every summer. You are probably thinking how is this possible? Honestly, it was so easy. It’s amazing how you actually have to talk to people face-to-face everyday without that light up screen as a distraction. Because of this, I learned what it was like to actually have fun and at the same time, make incredible friends that I am now able to call my brothers and sisters. (Sounds strange, but it’s really not)

Camp soon turned into an escape from reality. It was a place I became happy when I got sad, relaxed when I was stressed and care free from the million worries I had in the world. It was a place I could be myself, without ever feeling judged. When I got tired of hearing all the gossip run throughout the hallways at school, all I could think of was, “How many more days until camp?” If I didn’t have my camp to turn to, I’m not really sure if I would be the same person I am today.

While seven weeks, aka two months, seems like way too long to be away from home, it is truly not enough time. The bonds you make with the people around you are unexplainable and no one understands unless they have been to sleep-away camp. It has given me the best friends and the ones I will have for life. They are the people you seriously can’t get sick of. They are the people you truly cannot live without. And, they are the people that will give you everlasting memories.

Sorry to my home friends that never understood the withdrawal I went through when I returned home every August. I know you got tired of hearing my stories about how I lost color war or listening to the new lyrics I have to songs, but it’s the only thing that kept me going after being forced to leave my second home too soon.

Mom and Dad, you have no idea what you have done for me. You are the reason I have a second home, an escape from reality, friends to video chat with while I am supposed to be doing homework, people to go on vacation with and an endless list of memories I will always keep close to my heart. I know you had to work hard in order to give me this unforgettable and amazing experience, but I can promise you that every penny will always be worth it.

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