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This is an exciting week to say the least.

If you’ve been on my blog long enough (which, if that’s the case, I appreciate you so much), you will know that when I say “home,” I don’t necessarily mean the house I live in with my parents over the summer and especially not the temporary college apartment blocks from campus. Home, as strange as it may sound, is a camp I attended for four years as a participant, twice as an alumni visiting, and once as a reporter discussing the camp and everything is encompasses for those involved.

What a mouthful, right? A camp that is apparently this great? Isn’t that what all kids say about the childhood summer camps they attended? I don’t have much comparison to draw from, but trust me when I say that this particular camp is top notch.

It starts out as Governors Camp for middle school students. Those considered gifted in academics or leadership come for a week to take very unique classes (everything from fencing to cake decorating) and have a various array of presenters and evening activities. As much we jokingly call it “nerd camp,” there is so much more going on. But the root of it all is to promote funding for gifted education.

Now the fun part of camp comes when you’re in high school, graduating onto the Ambassadors of Excellence. The single week expands into two weeks and final show presented at the end. As in everybody, regardless of your musical talents, puts on a performance similar to that of show choir, singing and dancing and all. And yet with days spent in rehearsal learning music and choreography, campers truly become family. As in once it hits our last year of camp, everybody is crying thinking of never coming back to this place as an ambassador.

And with everything else camp entails, anybody who has gone can tell you it is very hard to describe. People don’t understand what we do and why we do it, but maybe that’s the most interesting part of it. What gets a bunch of peers from around the area to come running back every year to dress up in costumes and learn over an hour’s worth of musical numbers? It’s the community. The people drawn to the same place that may never speak to each other otherwise can somehow find a common interest and perhaps even more. It’s the environment that encourages young minds to push outside of their comfort zones despite their unique circumstances, to not fear but embrace mistakes, to grow as individuals in ways we never expected. It’s the realization that once you leave, you still have the acceptance and support from over a hundred people going on their separate paths and yet always connected by a irreplaceable bond.

So why am I rambling onto today about this camp? Well, I will be spending the week as a team leader, working for the camp in a new way. I guess they can never shake me from leaving, huh? While I will be with the younger campers most of the time, I am still beyond excited to get back into that environment and support young people to love the place as much as I do. I have not been able to be a team leader before this summer since I am usually stuck working with no week vacation time available. But because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, despite the hardship getting here, I’d like to think the stars have aligned for me to finally fill the role. I mean, I have come back in some capacity even after leaving the program three summers ago. Crazy how fast time flies by.

You won’t see much difference on the blog this week even though I’ll be busier than usual. Of course I write everything ahead of time, so no surprises there. But I wanted to at least express my excitement about being a part of a program I hold so dearly. While I want to dedicate my time and energy toward helping others, I am especially passionate about instilling the values I learned from this camp that were so powerful in my formative years.

And from this camp, I am equipped to begin my senior year of undergrad studies and see where life takes me, hoping I can leave the world better than it was and make a positive impact however I can.

As generation after generation enters the world, the least we can do is lead a good example. Having resources like these camps and gifted education in general available as assets for growing minds is crucial in innovation and development. As cheesy as it sounds, young people are our future. The large responsibility of living with the decisions we’ve made and potential consequences fall into their hands. They deserve to learn in whatever capacity they can. They deserve to live in a world that wants them to reach their fullest potentials.

Being a summer camp counselor for a week might not be the change in perspective that makes these statements common mantras, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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