By Lily Moss
When I think of my days at sleep-away camp, I am reminded of amazing friendships, the happiest of days, and most importantly, my second home. Sleep-away camp gives kids the opportunity to reinvent themselves, explore their independence, and try new things, all in a judgment-free environment. The best part of it all––it’s so much fun.
Most kids have spent their adolescent years in the same town, traveling with virtually the same people from preschool through high school. While there is nothing wrong with this, when you step out of your comfort zone into new territory with new people, you can learn lifelong skills and develop amazing friendships you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Personally, camp had a major impact on my life. Entering this fantasy-like new life was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. The stress of the Armonk scene and the ties to the unlimited world of social media were long forgotten. I was able to shed that skin and really be my true self.
It makes you wonder what stops people from being who they really are. Why is there this constant need to meet the standards of their “Community-Bubble” and the never-ending drama that social media instills upon us? It all seems to drive people to stray from their natural self. I remember wiping the last remains of makeup off my face, changing out of my trendy clothes into an old t-shirt and shorts. I looked into the mirror and saw the true me staring back. I no longer was the superficial teenager trying to be accepted into the high school drama and competition. There was something about the simplicity of this environment that brought out the most amazing feeling in not just me but all of my camp friends as well: the liberation from social media and teenage drama. The new perception of beauty we now had made us all feel free.
Jamie Konigsberg, who attended camp for eight years, says, “sleep-away camp opened my eyes to parts of myself I never knew could or would exist.” From such a young age, sleep-away camp ultimately forces kids to learn independence. Byram Hills junior Rebecca Fink stated, “starting camp as a 9-year-old, I had to learn how to take care of myself, make friends in a new environment, and live with people I had not known before. The lessons I learned throughout my time at camp were not only helpful as a camper but continually benefit me in my everyday life.”
Having the opportunity to see the world without a phone screen or a shield of makeup blocking the way is life changing. Stepping outside what I had known and been familiar with my whole entire life and trying something so new was scary, yet impactful. I never knew that one place could have such an impression on one’s personality. Although my camp days are over, my fresh attitude on life will remain with me wherever I go. Having this opportunity to experience these two months of freedom and happiness let my true self shine through, and I could not be more thankful for this experience.