Opening day is fast approaching!
April 13, 2016
Seven summers. It's hard to believe. This will be my seventh summer of Camp AmeriKids. I didn't know what to expect when I showed up late in the night on Friday, July 30th, 2010 and I got so so much more than I could have ever tried to imagine. There are others adding their voices to this campaign, telling you why their cabin is the best or their favorite, so I'm going to tell you about my favorite cabin.
My favorite cabin is the Chipmunk cabin. Those 8 and 9 year old girls know how to throw a party. You will not leave a Chipmunk gathering without plenty of bling (always custom-made), a lot of laughter, and a healthy dose of glitter. These young ladies still want to hold your hand when they're walking from one activity to the next. They want to braid your hair, make beaded bracelets, paint you pictures, and still want you to sing them to sleep. The Chipmunks. They are my favorite because they are the optimists.
My favorite cabin is also the Fox cabin. The male counterparts of the Chipmunks. The boys of the Fox cabin, 8 and 9 year olds, will steal your heart right out of your chest. I've never been a little boy but just being in their presence makes you believe in magic, because they do. A Fox will, in the same breath, make you so frustrated because he won't put his sneakers on but make you laugh until your sides hurt because he will also remind you that putting stinky feet in the face of someone else really is hilarious. The Foxes. They are my favorite because they are the children I wish to be at heart.
With further thought my favorite cabin is the Raccoon cabin. 10 and 11 year old girls who have such spunk it stops you dead in your tracks. A Raccoon will make sure you know the right dance moves for this summer's hit single but she will also dance with you even if (when) you look a little like a fool. She will cheer for you as loud as her little lungs can when you're trying to win the peanut butter graham cracker challenge. But she will also use those lungs to make sure you know where she stands on every issue. The Raccoons. They are my favorite because they are the tenacious and honest ones.
Then again, there's the Coyote cabin. My favorite cabin is the Coyote cabin. Also 10 and 11 these boys come in two sizes. Smaller than me and bigger than me. These young men can be loud, running into the dining hall with wreckless abandon, and excitedly coming up with ideas like eating giant cookies and going on morning jogs together. They'll argue with each other over the affection of a girl but at the end of the day they will pile into a single room, on bunk beds, on the floor, in the corner of a closet, to listen to you read Roald Dahl at bedtime. The Coyotes. They are my favorite because they still like everything.
But I can't forget the Owls. My favorite cabin is the Owl cabin. Oustanding women of 12 and 13 who are in what for many is the most trying time of life - figuring out who you are, no longer a child, not quite a young adult. These young women make my heart swell, offering mature and well-thought answers to questions about life but being willing (and wanting) to sing songs together at night, make friendship bracelets, and run around the cabin giggling uncontrollably. The Owls. They are my favorite because they still just want to have fun.
How dare I ignore the Hawk cabin though. My favorite cabin is definitely the Hawk cabin. Young men of 12 and 13, trying to resist the expectations of oncoming teenager-dom. These boys will keep you on your toes with their energy, their opinions of the world, and their propensity for pranks and general tomfoolery. But when it comes to the last night of camp - they'll be some of the first to try and keep a stoic face and stiff upper lip with tears still welling in their eyes. The Hawks. They are my favorite because they are the heart.
But then my favorite cabin is the Frog cabin. The oldest ladies of Camp AmeriKids. The 14-16 year olds who have seen it all, done it all, and know enough to see they don't know it all. They teach each other. They love each other. They rely on each other. The Frogs will tell it like it is - informing you when you're being ridiculous. But they'll be your sisters through it all, regardless of how different you may be. The Frogs. They are my favorite because they are the diversity and the strength.
Yet I can't not say the Bats. My favorite cabin is the Bat cabin. Young men, 14-16 years old, who make me hopeful everyday of the goodness that they will bring to the world. They are men by the time they leave camp. You see it in their faces. You hear it in their voices. You experience it in the way they stand up for all other groups at camp, with respect and with cheer. You feel it when you see them reading in bunk beds with Foxes at bedtime. The Bats. They are my favorite because they are the brothers.
Well. I suppose. At the end of it all. Every cabin is my favorite. I've been lucky enough to have spent quality time with all of these groups of individuals. I have read books and sung countless songs once lights are out. I have been at campfires, pizza parties, and night swims. I have seen them literally climb stories and feel like they've conquered the world. I have been hugged, patted on the back, clapped for, and thanked by even the most trying (at times) of children.
My heart has swelled, has expanded, has grown in such ways that I don't have the capacity to properly thank the children (and counselors) that have changed me. And I don't know who you should donate to because they're all my favorite, so donating to any of these cabins also makes you, yes you, my absolute favorite.