A Time In My Life. The Experience that Changed My Life Essay Sample
As the coach bus pulled away from the parking lot, moms, dads, grandparents, siblings all waved goodbye to us, shouting ‘miss you’ and ‘write soon!’. Even though my mom could not see me clearly from the tinted window, I could see her clear as day. It was almost as if a spotlight was shining down on her. I quickly noticed tears streaming down her cheeks more and more as we parted further and further away from each other. I was officially on my way to my first ever year of sleep away camp for eight weeks. The next time I would get to see her and my family would be in four long weeks. Prior to this moment, I had really only seen my mom cry when bad things happened—but in my heart I knew that this was not a sad moment. This was a joyous moment.
Before sleep away camp, the longest I had been away from my family was a couple of days, but always close to home. During my childhood summers I would just go to day camp. Every day would be the same thing: wake up, get on the camp bus, go to camp, swim in a freezing cold, small pool, then spend the rest of my day with wet hair, listen the CITs (counselor in training) gossip, wait to get on the bus, and go home. It was like an endless grueling cycle I had to endure every day of every summer. I some friends at this day camp, but I knew that none would last long because our bond was just not strong enough. I am not saying it was the worst experience of my life, but it was definitely not the best. I was tired of day camp; I wanted something new. My nine-year-old self decided I wanted more out of my summers. On the last day of day camp, I brought the idea of trying out sleep away camp to my parents and they were immediately on board. Two weeks later I was on a bus to Milford, Pennsylvania for a week to test out sleep away camp. Five short days later I had a two-hour journey back home and fell into my parents’ arms as I literally jumped for joy off the bus. My mom asked how it went and I said,
“Mom, dad, I need to go back next year... and for eight weeks!!”
My parents looked at each other and they knew that I just had the time of my life at sleep away camp. On the way home I did not shut up for one second. I told them about the awesome counselors, how the lake had a cool slide, and the pool was huge and not cold.
Fast forward to the following summer, my first day of sleep away camp for eight weeks. I stepped off the coach bus with a smile that overtook my whole face. I was back at my “home away from home”. My counselor helped me unpack, and I met my bunkmates and took a tour around the whole camp. I think that night was when it really set in. I knew this was not going to be another five-day trial period. Following that realization, I remember that night pulling the covers over my head and crying quietly. I was two hours away from my family, I had no friends and no one to help me wipe my tears. I was scared.
As I got up from the lower bed of our bunkbed to walk to my cubby for tissues, I heard quiet sobs coming from the bed above me. Standing at my cubby, the girl sat up from her bed and crawled to the foot of the bed, closer to me. I looked up at her and handed her the tissue box. She quietly plucked a tissue out of the box, thanked me and laid back down. I felt a lot better knowing someone else was experiencing the same feelings. I tip-toed back to my bed and snuggled up with my frog Pillow Pet.
The next day, during arts & crafts I talked to the girl who was sleeping in the top bunk. Her name was Emily. Knowing that she had similar feelings, I felt comfortable talking with her. We became fast friends. As the summer progressed, we bonded over countless bonfires, going down the slide and everything in between. My summer got better the more time I spent adjusting to the camp life. As time passed, my confidence grew, and I was able to make more friends.
Fast forward seven weeks, all of our duffle bags were packed, and we were in sleeping bags for our last night together as a bunk. I was no longer crying under my covers, rather I was crying with my best friends in the middle of the bunk. We were all extremely heartbroken to leave each other. The next morning, we said our goodbyes, exchanged e-mails and went our different ways. During the next ten months apart from each other, we counted down the days until we would finally be together again as a bunk. The following summer, we all reunited at camp. I was back at my home away from home. I no longer had the same uneasiness that I felt the first night last summer. I knew I would be okay with my best friends at my side to help me.
I never expected to leave my first year of sleepaway camp with new best friends. To this day, my entire bunk and I are still friends and reminisce about our first year together. Looking back, I realized how scared I was to show my true, raw emotions. Now as an adult, I am more readily able to share my feelings. From this friendship I learned that you are never alone. I have dealt with some major commitment issues throughout my life. As cliché as it sounds, I really would not know where I would be without Nine years later, as a counselor at the same camp, I help campers overcome the negative emotions I experienced. I always keep a tissue box next to my bunk bed for anyone else that may need it.
I felt (and still feel) extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to experience sleepaway camp. I know that a large handful of kids (and a lot of my friends, in fact) were not allowed or were not able to go to sleep away camp for many reasons. I feel bad for those people because they were unable to learn the things I did at camp. The skills and lessons you are taught through experience at camp are the ones you are unable to learn in a classroom setting. Camp truly molded me into the person I am today. My friends would describe me as empathetic, loving, kind-hearted and a great listener. I believe that because I went to sleep away as a little girl, I could now as a counselor help my campers go through the same things I did when I were in their shoes. I learned how to be independent and a leader.
The first year you can be a counselor you are around the age of 16. When I was a camper, I did not realize how young my counselors actually were and the amount of responsibility they had to take on at a young age. But now, as a counselor myself I know the level of responsibility I hold. Because I went to camp, I felt more mature than others at my school. But I see this as a positive thing. Sure, counselors are always there to help but for the most part you are on your own at camp.
I have always dreamed of becoming an elementary teacher and having my own classroom. I envision my students getting off the bus, giving them high fives as they eagerly enter my comfortable and welcoming classroom. After becoming a counselor, I could really imagine myself being a role model for my future students. Hopefully, the next time I see my mom cry will be when her picture on the first day of school being a teacher.