I don’t feel ready to leave, but when is the right time to be ready to leave a never land like Fernwood Cove. As we drive down island pond road, I can feel a huge lump in my throat and I miss it already.
It’s a safe haven, a work place, a camp, a home. Where else can 300 people from around the world, come together and feel so attached to one big plot of land.
I don’t even care about the fact that I have no idea where my wallet is or that my stuff is everywhere & unorganised & I don’t know when my flight is tomorrow, all I could think about was not wanting to leave. But I kept telling myself not to cry because it’s over but smile that it happened.
It seems crazy that I would come a second year back to America and dedicate this whole year to come back for just these three months, but it is all completely worth it, working at this ‘extraordinary summer camp for girls’.
Camp has taught me many things. It has taught me the value of good relationships, how to be empathetic as opposed to sympathetic, to feel fear & do it anyway and to be present in every moment in life because before you know it, it will pass you by and you’ll be left wondering how the time past so quickly.
Camp is the only place a guy can dress like a girl & not be judged for being queer, the only place it’s completely normal to have a flash mob come into dinner and break into song/dance & the only place 300 people will sing happy birthday to you with enthusiasm at the top of their lungs.
I put every sweat, tear, smile and voice into this year at camp. Being in the most respected/oldest bunk gave me a lot of responsibility being role models to the rest of camp. I was chosen to be a bunk mum (live with the kids) for the oldest girls – the seniors. Their bunk was called Flamingo.
All of the bunks are named after birds. Last year I was a penguin (8th grade).
The bunk moms job is to act in loco parentis for girls aged 7-16 and you live in an assigned age group bunk, aswell as also being given an activity to teach throughout the day (mine being wakeboard/waterski)
Being in Flamingo you organise a big surprise activity day on a Sunday called Senior Surprise, which is a game of activities/challenges by age group. You also organise Color War. Color war is on the last Sunday and it’s a whole heap of races/challenges/Olympic-type-stuff and all of camp is divided into two teams – Green vs White. And they compete. Our theme was Jurrasic Cove and I dressed up as a dinosaur in a onsie and rode around to all he stations checking up on all my girls that they were running the activities well. The day was amazing!
Then lastly, the seniors have their services. Services is where the girls run their own mini concert/event which is based on a value. I.e, friendship, self respect, honesty etc.. They put forward their opinions and ideas on the subject, why it’s important and sing songs.
The Seniors didn’t have a theme, but more based theirs just on their own personal camp experience and how it has affected their lives and what the younger campers can learn from them about making the most of their time there.
It was an emotional morning – both sessions (we have two sessions of girls, both for 3 1/2 weeks). Their speeches gave me goosebumps. One speech commented that at camp you can see a MILLION stars. And it’s because their is no pollution, technology or anything from the outside world. In a city, you can see close to no stars. This is because of all of the ordinary influences on the environment. This in a way is like people. When people are influenced by social media, marketing, the news etc.. They can fall into a trap of being a victim of their ordinary surroundings. When you take away those unnatural influences, the person is stripped back to who they really are underneath the clothes, make up and possessions.
Camp shows you that all those things are just extras in our lives, not necessities. You can live a fuller life without all of those things & the key is to not let it change you (or to dull your star – who you truly are).
The moments I’ll remember are the ones when I could really feel I was making a difference in a girls life. The moment when a camper said she loved me when swimming to the island and genuinely meant it, the moment when we helped our camper cope with a panic attack during white water rafting, the moment you encouraged that anxious girl to reach out of her comfort zone, the moment you knew you’d helped them after being sick and the moments where you know your big sisterly advice means more to them than you realise because it may be the only genuine care they get.
“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every heart is the power to do it.”
& then the other amazing aspect of camp is the co counsellors I work with, my bunk flamily & the wake board water ski team. Living with each other, day in and day out, for 3 months you see every side of a person. You learn to love all the things about each person. I believe that is true friendship. When you love someone when they are happy, or when they’re sad, anxious, excited, frustrated, tired or full of energy. You make the most meaningful friendships with people from all around the world. The UK, America, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa… Ereryyyyyywhere! It’s hard to say goodbye to them all, but exciting to think about all the adventures I can go on to visit them in their home countries one day!
There are not many ways I can explain camp so I’ll leave you with my Senior speech I read to camp..
… In my first week this summer with these girls, I brought them into the chick and we played a simple bonding game with a ball of yarn.
The aim of the game was for one of us to start with a ball of yarn, grab the end, and say something (anything at all) and whoever agrees with that thing raises their hand and then I throw the ball of yarn to another person who that also resonates with, and then they say another thing etc. by the end of this, We all end up being interconnected by this ball of yarn – like a giant dream catcher.
I told the girls they could make it as deep or as simple as they would like.
This is to symbolise that we are connected in more ways than just one.
We don’t all go to the same camp, and we don’t all have no voice at the end of campfire on a Friday night, and we don’t all just feel that someone’s birthday doesn’t bring only joy to that person but to everyone around them.. They’re not the only things we have in common. We are all connected on a much deeper level. Throughout our speeches this morning we will demonstrate this connection.
This ball of yarn web starts with Jim & beigette. Thank you for starting this never ending web of pathways to one another. Without this experience of working here, I don’t know where I would be today because I don’t know if I ever would have gotten to know myself the way I have gotten to know myself at camp.
I have learnt that by creating a greater relationship with your own soul, you can connect & help others to the best of your ability.
Thank you also to my cousellors – Caity, Rob, Rikki, Deter and Molly. For being such an incredible team to work with!
& every other staff member and camper here for welcoming me into the cove family like I’d been here my whole life. Sometimes I can’t comprehend how I was so blessed to be given this opportunity.
Flams, You girls have shown me that coming here isn’t just ‘summer fun’ but it has changed and helped shape your lives and the people you are today. Thank you for the support, love, & gratitude you have shown to myself and everyone in our flamily. Please, don’t walk away from 350 Island pond road and cry but walk away and smile that it all happened.. Go out and Be the change you wish to see in the world. I’m so proud of each and every one of you. Keep being extraordinary & never loose sight of the magic and who the best version of yourself really is.
Every dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.