When I was 5, my parents dropped me off for a week of camp at Silver Lake, near Sauble Beach, Ont. I was terrified. When they were trying to say their goodbyes, I would not let them go.
The first few days were hard. I called my mom and dad saying I wanted to come home, even though I was actually having a great time. I was scared the first time without my parents, sleeping in a cabin, in the forest, not knowing anybody.
Then one of the first evenings as we gathered around for campfire, Jill Sauer, a kind, welcoming lady I knew from church, caught my eye. When campfire was done, her son went over to give her a hug. This made me miss hugging my mom so much that I went over to her and gave her a big hug too. I did that every night that week, and it made me feel much better. She became my camp mom.
I made new friends the next summer. I wasn’t missing my parents as much and really enjoyed camp. I did that summer after summer. Every year, I was a bit tentative to go, not knowing what would happen. Every year, I got more comfortable. I started going for two weeks, then three, then doing out trips.
Every out trip is unique. They’re never easy and never what you think they will be. And they’re always life-changing. Out trips can also be scary. With no connection, no running water, no electricity, no other people than your camping group, you’re carrying the only supplies you have, and they are very minimal.
You all are sweaty and gross. Your tent is muggy and hot. Outside is freezing. But you are with a second family. You’re tired and scared, and never know what the next day is going to bring. But no one does. You’re relying on each other. Things in life can be scary, but at camp everyone is trusting each other in some way, from a simple hug before bed from a friend when you miss your mom, to your out-trip members helping each other out.
Camp pushes people’s trust, builds it and makes it stronger. It stretches you to reach your fullest potential, even if just for a week, but you will hold that with you as you go home.
Camp is one of the places I feel most vulnerable. Because of that, it is my favourite place, a place I feel most comfortable.