How camp has shaped me

Discovering yourself as a young person is a difficult task. But summer camp has played an integral part in shaping my identity.

Different+moments+captured+during+my+time+at+camp.

Reese Williams

Different moments captured during my time at camp.

Reese Williams, Associate Editor

I open my eyes and feel the cool summer breeze entering the cabin. I look around and see nine of my best friends and I think to myself, “Today is going to be a good day!”

Tucked in the corners of a small town in Tuxedo, North Carolina, lies Camp Greystone. For me, it has been a place where I have grown, matured, and made what I believe, will be the longest lasting friends of my life.

When I first attended sleepaway summer camp, I was a rising sixth grader. I was terrified to go. However, as soon as I walked in to my cabin, there was an instant warmth and joy. The 12 days I was at camp were the best days of my entire life. It was everything  from the amazing counselors to the other campers and activities that made this new environment unique. I knew I had to go back next summer.

 As I got older, the camp just got better. I believe the reason for this is because I was able to better understand the lessons that were being taught about morals and what it means to be a Chrisitan. On a more independent basis I was able to connect with friends during the school year.  I was not only making lifelong friends but also learning things about myself that I didn’t know. I discovered my love for knitting and cooking. I got to do the things I loved already like theater and horseback riding. It was absolutely amazing.

When COVID-19 hit and I heard that camp was not going to happen I was devastated. In a time when camp was the one thing I needed most, not being able to return was tragic.  The summer of 2020 would have been my first summer as a “main camper” attending the five-week session. Fortunately, even though I didn’t get to go to camp, I still was able to stay connected through Instagram with friends. As well as staying connected with friends, the staff at camp also kept simple traditions like “breakfast club” alive. Each morning Jimboy, the owner of camp, tells us a joke and a lesson to go along with it and using online videos he was able to continue doing that. 

The summer before my sophomore year I was in a difficult place. I felt lost. I didn’t know where I fit in and I didn’t know who I wanted to be.

However, the moment that I walked into cabin four that summer, I instantly felt at home again. There was a feeling of warmth and unity that could not be put into words. It took some adjusting at first, it had been so long since I had been away from my parents and friends at home due to quarantine.

I discovered a lot about myself that summer. I discovered that I wanted to be a devoted Christian and that I wanted to be the kind of person that had strong beliefs and morals. 

Greystone allowed me to be in an environment where I could ask questions, be silly and learn about who I am as a person. 

After returning to camp for one last “normal” session as a camper, I finally entered my senior years. Yes, years is plural because at Greystone your last two summers as a camper are very unique. This past summer was what at Greystone we call “junior-senior” year which means it was my second to last summer as a camper. It was a very unique experience watching the younger girls look up to my age group and it reminded me of when I used to look up to the older girls. It hit me hard when I realized that now it was my turn to set an example and to be a “big sister” for the younger girls. 

Now, as I am entering the middle of my junior year of high school, there has been more and more talk about my last summer as a camper for my “senior-senior” year. Senior-Senior year is like a five-week celebration of growing up but also remembering how amazing being a kid is. It is a great way for me to take a break from the world before college applications and life-changing decisions. Oh ya, and I forgot to mention this is an all girls, no phone zone. To some that may sound like torture, but to me it is the best most amazing thing. It allows me to disconnect from the world and take a break from all of the stress and social pressures of technology.

This piece was not meant to be an ad for Greystone. On the other hand if you are considering going to any sleep away camp I highly recommend it. The message I was trying to get across is that camp is one of the best, most special experiences that I have ever had in my life. It has helped me to better myself and camp will always be a part of my identity. For that I am forever grateful.  

3