At the end of last week's blog, I talked a little bit about reflecting on the impact that camp has made on my life. The lessons I've learned, the relationships I've made, the insights I've gained, I carry all of that with me all the time, but I think what makes these memories last is sharing them with one another.
I asked a group of former and current Camp Swamp attendees a simple question, "what does camp mean to you?", and the answers truly blew me away. So I'd like to share with you all what they said, I think you'll find their responses not only encouraging, but also reminding of why camp is important to you.
"Camp is home. It is safety. When I was a little kid, I dreamed of being old enough to go to camp, and when I finally went for the first time when I was 9, I fell in love with the culture of acceptance and fun. Over the past 11 years, camp has helped me through so many situations from first deciding to study the Bible to remaining faithful ever since. Some of my deepest friendships were made at camp, and it will always be a huge part of my heart.""Personally, camp means family to me. I feel I've gained so many close relationships there that I'm able to be completely open with and be myself around. And because of that I feel safe from my usual insecurities that I have throughout the year. I think of camp has a safe haven for a family of various people to get close."
"To me, camp represents an idea of safety and change. Being at camp represents being in an environment that I can be myself with no reservations. I have a chance to shed any masks I may try to wear. It's a place I constantly retreated to in order to regain strength when I desperately needed it. It ultimately represents change. Swamp changed my life so many times I've lost count. Without camp, I have no idea where I would be. The safety it provides leads to the change that has happened, and I'm forever grateful for it."
"Okay so camp means safety. As a counselor safety is my main priority. I need to create a safe environment in any area for all campers, counselors, workers or volunteers. This allows for anyone to feel secure enough to express what they are thinking or feeling. You don't have to hide behind the shell that is usually created as protection from the world. Camp is a place where anyone can be who they truly are because they are safe."
"Camp means waking up early and going to bed late, it means you fall asleep to the sound of crickets, it means that the best naps come during a rainy cabin time, it means having back cramps from doing the limbo, it means dancing during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It means choosing between a shower and sleeping in. It means making new friends over food, it means getting sprayed washing dishes in the dish room. It means becoming a mermaid during pool time and a sniper during laser tag. It means knowing you couldn't possibly count all of the stars, even if you had a million years to do so. It means singing your heart out on Wednesday mornings and dancing your heart out on Friday nights. It means lending a quarter to someone at the canteen. It means being one another's biggest fans. It means celebrating diversity and practicing compassion. Did I answer the question?"
I'm not going to lie, that last one actually made me tear up a bit. Even though it sounds a little cliche, there's no better way to put it than saying that camp feels like home, and not just in a physical sense. In an emotional and mental and in some ways spiritual sense, camp feels like home. And the best part about that is that for everyone that goes, we all get to share in that together. If you're interested in attending Camp Swamp's 25th Anniversary Party, click here to RSVP and learn more information!
Thanks for reading! Please be sure to register for your weeks at camp by clicking here , spots are starting to fill up! And remember to check out Camp Swamp's fundraising campaign to buy new mattresses for the cabins. Click here to read more and donate today!
Until next week,
Dec. 29-Jan. 1
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