Some kids go to summer camp for a week, say that they enjoy it, but then never go back. Two of my best friends did that. Others go to summer camp for a few years, grow tired of it, and decide not to return. A lot of my other friends did that. And for other kids, they go to a summer camp and realize they can never leave because they have fallen in love with every aspect of it. I am in that third group. I am a true camp girl, the kind who longs for camp when she is at home, the kind who cannot go more than a few hours without talking about camp in some way, and the kind who plans her entire summer schedule around the times that she will work at camp.The summer camp I fell in love with is YMCA Camp Ernst, Burlington, Kentucky.
From my first week back before 6th grade, I knew Camp Ernst was special. Everyone there, campers and counselors alike, were always so happy and positive. No matter what I was doing, I was having an amazing time and I could not possibly wipe the smile off of my face. As I grew older and transitioned from camper to crew member to counselor, I still enjoyed every minute of it all. But it was not until later that I figured out how influential and important Camp Ernst was going to be to me in my teenage years.
At camp, there is no one to judge you, or to make you feel bad about being yourself, and this is such a blessing to me. Compared to my friends, I’ve always been a little louder, a little more outgoing, and a lot more energetic. As a result of all that energy, I sometimes have to curb my enthusiasm, and take everything down a few notches so that I fit in with my friends. However, at camp I can let that energy flow, solidifying my self-esteem and confidence about who I am. At camp, no one minds if I belt out lyrics to Hannah Montana or High School Musical songs. Campers join in when I stand on my chair during lunch to dance to the summer’s number one hit song. Both campers and counselors laugh when I run around camp, doing cartwheels and giggling to myself as I try my hardest to excite my campers about the upcoming scavenger hunt. When I am at camp I have the liberty and freedom to express myself, and not have any social norms holding me back. I’m comfortable in my own skin, but I am just that much more comfortable when I am at camp.
There is something special about Camp Ernst, about how it can make some feel comfortable enough to come out of their shell and for others to realize their self-worth. And by doing that campers are able to see a brand new side of themselves that they didn’t even know was there. That has happened to me. The joy and freedom to be me that I experience while I am at Camp Ernst is the reason why it is the place where I am most content. The things that I do there, the counselors who have influenced me, and the campers I have impacted all mean so much to me. Without camp I would not be who I am today. Camp Ernst allows me to be exactly who I am, and not only is it smiled upon, it is celebrated.
Above is the essay I wrote for my college application. The prompt asked me to describe a place where I felt "perfectly content." However, I was writing about the place where I felt honestly and truly happy.
YMCA Camp Ernst is an incredible place. Here, during a single summer, a child can learn about themselves, and grow. Now I'm sure you're doubting me. You're thinking "How can a child grow in a single week?" But I assure you, it's true. The change I have seen in a single child from a Sunday afternoon to a Saturday morning is awe inspiring. YMCA Camp Ernst allows children to be exactly who they want to be, and be celebrated for who they are.
Sending a child to YMCA Camp Ernst could possibly be the best gift they will ever receive.