Keller – The Real World Is Knocking …
Wow! These are the kind of emails we receive that make us smile and sad all at the same time. With permission from Allie Keller, we are sharing her, as Dr. Seuss said “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened” email to us.
I have been avoiding writing this email for quite some time, but knew I had to respond when Jenn sent the email to me on Friday. With a heavy heart, I have to tell you I will not be returning for Summer 2015. Unfortunately, the real world is knocking, with graduation looming in May and I have to answer.
Each of my 10 summers at camp have been different although the place, core values, structure and many of the people have stayed the same. Summer 2014 for me, became the summer of closure, everything had come full circle. I saw my campers waiving and cheering in the commons wearing staff shirts as they eagerly and nervously waited for their new campers to get off the bus on the first day. I distinctly remember being in their exact position four years earlier and being so worried about if my campers would like me, what kind of counselor would I be and what it would be like to be at camp for the full summer and not just first session. I remember stumbling over names at the pool during their swim test and this year saw the same situation, while my former campers were a few bleachers away also struggling. This summer was more challenging than my JC summer because I learned the impact of bonding with a group of campers can have on your summer, something I took for granted previously.
Looking back on my camp career brings nothing but smiles and good memories. The afraid-to-sleep-out-12 year old camper who first got on the bus, became the I-never-want-to-leave-13 year old and I’ve never looked back, now my parents can’t get me to stay home for a summer despite their best efforts. Whenever one of the articles about why a camp counselor is more valuable than an intern in the workplace, or the articles about how to write down being a counselor on your resume comes out, I immediately forward them to my parents and say “SEE”?! As a camper, I was forced out of my comfort zone and into the camp bubble, where I learned to be independent and connect to complete strangers. As a counselor, I have been able to bond with an incredible group of girls and watch them grow up from dorky middle schoolers to college bound adults. After my JC summer there was never a doubt in my mind what my plans were for the next summer, I had to be at camp for my girls.
I cannot begin to thank each of you for the opportunities and experiences I have been given at TLW. I have laughed the loudest, cried the hardest, been the most exhausted, challenged and rewarded, while at camp. I wouldn’t trade my 10 perfect summers for anything because they (to quote an alma mater) “made me who I am and who I’ll always be.” I have learned to be flexible, creative, how to relate to others from different backgrounds/viewpoints, leadership, and the impact I can have on a camper or another person.
While I won’t be returning as a counselor next summer, I will definitely be back to visit. I hope that one day in the future I will be free and make it back for (at least!!) one more summer.I can’t stay away from the color war cheers and freeze games for too long 🙂
Thanks for the countless memories, lifelong friends and helping me grow up. To me, you made a difference.
And thank you Allie Keller for being a part of our Timber Lake West Family. Your presence will be missed this summer; we are looking forward to your visits!