Confessions of a Lifer…

My name is Brittany but my camp friends all know me as Brie.  Thinking back to the summer I first became a camper, I wonder what I thought I would be doing 10 summers later. Would I still be at camp? Would I make friends who I could really consider sisters? Would I become a counselor one day? Would I live my dream of being a Color War General (That’s me, above in Red, Summer 2012!)? Would I become a “lifer”?

In the summer of August of 2002, I spent the better part of it watching promotional camp videos, speaking to camp directors, and going on camp tours. I encountered many suitable camps but it wasn’t until my tour of Timber Lake West that I found the place where I belonged, the place that would grow to become my second home. I remember walking through the canteen, around the social hall, down to the breath-taking lake, and finally through the Art Barn where my mother’s encouraging comment, “this is right up your alley,” solidified my choice. Throughout the next year I could be seen toting my TLW water bottle and counting down the days until I would officially become a camper.

I have been at West for a total for 10 summers, 5 as a camper, 5 as a counselor and I can confidently say that it just keeps getting better and better.  I have been a Junior Counselor, General Counselor and I am now a Group Leader. I am most proud of becoming a Color War officer; this past summer I became a winning General and I have never felt so fulfilled! At camp I’m best know for my crazy camp spirit, silly hair styles, and “Alma Mater Binder” filled with songs and memories from every Color War I’ve experienced!

Whenever my camp friends and I get together, whether it’s at our favorite restaurant during the year or on Visiting Day at camp, we always say it feels like we never left each other and we delve right back into our places as best friends, reminiscing about our favorite times at camp – like when we  “Stole Camp” and took all of Girl’s Side to the soccer pitch or when we turned our Teen Two bunk into a jungle! My camp friends always laugh at me because I keep and document EVERYTHING. Sometimes when we get together, we go through my boxes and boxes filled with summer memories; we end up spending hours laughing, crying, and reminiscing.

Each summer I return from West and find a positive change has occurred in myself, a change that shines to family and friends alike. As a camper, this change came in the form of self-confidence and a sense of independence, which I would carry with me throughout the year and beyond. Camp taught me to be myself and in doing that allowed me to be the best version of myself.  As a counselor, I continue to grow each summer at camp, as both a person and as a leader.

Because West has given me so much, I knew that becoming a counselor would be the best way to give back by doing all I can to ensure that the traditions continue and that each camper leaves West better than they arrived. West gives me yet another gift as I watch my campers have the same experiences I once had; I watch their friendships form and their confidence increase with each passing day. Now I come back each summer to see my campers and know that is an absolute privilege to be able to watch them grow up.

My 1st summer at West, I don’t think I knew what a “lifer” was.  But I can promise you it is what I am now. I know that no matter what happens, Timber Lake West will forever hold a special place in my heart and wherever I am, the mention of West continues to bring a smile to my face and conjures many memories of summers spent at the best place in the world.


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