If you’ve ever heard me talk about camp, chances are that you know just how important it is to me. Camp Ernst and its 365 acres – one for each day of the year, as a camper once told me – has been my home away from home for almost a decade of my life. The homesickness I suffered through during my first week as a camper has evolved into a sense of camp-homesickness, a longing for that place where I know I am truly happy and sincerely accepted.
As each summer Sunday brings a new group of campers, my goal stays the same: to try to provide these kids the same kind of encouraging and empowering environment that my counselors created for me for so many years. And each week I see my campers truly thrive in this environment. I’ve seen the shyest girls leading their cabins in songs by Thursday. I’ve seen whole cabins rally around one of their own, cheering them on in dodgeball or encouraging them off the Airwalk. I’ve seen campers cry when their parents pick them up on Saturday because they can’t stand to leave their new friends and their new home.
Camp becomes a place for these kids not to just make friends and go down the double-twisty slide, but to really be loud and let their colors show, as the Avett Brothers say. They get a chance to be themselves for a week, unapologetically and unjudged.
Camp is a place where money doesn’t matter – the campers who wear the same shirt for three days is treated just the same as the ones who change after every meal – until it does matter and it keeps a kid from this potentially life changing experience. My goal before the summer starts is to raise enough money to send one kid to camp. At $610, it can be difficult for families struggling financially to provide this experience. I believe that every child deserves the chance to experience camp, regardless of their families’ financial ability.
As living proof that camp can change lives, I’m asking you to donate and give us the chance to change one more life. Any amount donated is greatly appreciated and goes towards the chance to make my second home another kid’s home as well.