Hey, Camp Fans!
There are more stories to share from the Everything Summer Camp ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest! Your camp stories were so great and were such a fun time reading through them all and it’s been exciting to share them with all our readers online! We’re publishing each submission individually on a post right here on the Blog one by one!
We had ten lucky prize winners and now it’s time to publish the rest of your submissions. The following submission is from Taylor P. who wrote in to us about year #5 at Camp Sloane:
“My name is Taylor. I’ve been going to Camp Sloane YMCA for 5 years. How my story starts is a little unusual because I’m a 3rd generation camper at Sloane meaning that my mom and uncles went to camp as well as my grandma. My cousins(8 & 9) also fly in from California and South Carolina to attend camp with me each year, 2022 was their 2nd year and my little brother(12) who also submitted his story attends camp with me, 2022 was his 4th year. Out of us 4 I’ve been going the longest since I’m the oldest but it's become kind of a family tradition and it's really fun. This year started off a little rocky and was a year like no other, but turned out to be the greatest year I’ve ever had at camp. The day that I was supposed to go to camp I tested positive for COVID and wasn't able to go to camp, I was absolutely devastated because Camp Sloane is truly like a 2nd home to me. I never had symptoms and would have never tested if it wasn’t required by camp to start camp and all I thought was why now. I hadn't ever had COVID since the pandemic started and if it was going to happen, why did it have to happen now. One long week later I got to camp, still wearing a mask for a few more days but I was there. One of my favorite things about camp has always been the people and as soon as I got there, everyone was super friendly. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones pretty quickly. As soon as I checked in, my village director Maeve brought me up to my village, helped to get me settled in and then helped me get my schedule. I said my goodbyes to my mom and Maeve brought me to my first activity which was soccer. Later during lunch, Maeve introduced me to my tent counselors and my tentmates, it was a little awkward at first but not for long. I went out to oval (kinda like recess) after lunch and there I got to reconnect with some of my friends from previous years. The session was over a week later but I was still overall happy with how the session went and felt back at home. The next session started and unfortunately pretty quickly I started to get made fun of for the way I dressed, looked, and acted. It happened a tiny bit last session but not nearly as much. I tried not to let it get to me as it was little kids mostly not understanding that everyone doesn't need to fit into all the stereotypes but it was really hard. I lived in Student Hill(a village for 9th and 10th grade campers and staff that are female identifying or non binary) but little kids from Pios(village for 3rd and 4th grade campers) and Juniors(village for 5th and 6th grade campers) kept insisting that I lived in the Valley(villages for male identifying campers and staff). I understood why they thought that and I was okay with them asking questions but when they refused to believe I lived in my respective village because of stereotypes that really bothered me. My first week I didn’t truly connect to any staff members so I didn’t really tell anyone how I felt but as I became closer with my tent and my tent counselors I told them how I felt and they tried to help as best they could but nothing really changed. In session 3 I was part of PA camp which was a specialized camp focused on acting, singing, dancing and the camp culminated with us putting on a play for the rest of the camp. It was a lot of fun but there were still issues going on outside of this specialty experience. Kids were still making fun of me and refusing to believe that I lived in Student Hill but one night something happened that changed the rest of my experience. It was PA overnight which meant we watched a movie and did karaoke and lots of other stuff together as PA camp. At the beginning of the night I was struggling because I had just had a rough day but I talked to an amazing staff member named Spiegel and that changed the rest of my experience. Spiegel is our adventure director which means that they are in charge of all the adventure activities such as Mtn biking, climbing tower, outdoor cooking, and stuff like that. Technically they could have gone the entire session without interacting with me but they didn't. They became one of my biggest support systems for the rest of the session. I had talked to them before a few times and instantly honestly felt safe and comfortable with them but I had never really talked to them about anything super serious or regarding my mental/emotional state. That night everything changed though, they just listened to me, they listened to how I felt, acknowledged my feelings, and did everything they could to comfort me even if they wouldn't change anything. That night, they helped me out more than they'll ever know. The rest of the session I would talk to them almost every day, they would sit with me at meal times and just always be there to support me. The day we had to leave, I was hysterical. I didn't want to have to say goodbye to someone who had supported me so much and made my experience just 10x better. I literally cried all morning, dreading when I would have to say goodbye but I knew it wasn't goodbye. It was just see you later because I already signed up for 2023 and I’m just hoping that Spiegel will be there again next year with me. They helped me so much and did so much more for me than they’ll ever know and that's okay but they were a big part of my story this year. Another huge part of my story was another staff member named Genevieve. Genevieve was the Pio(3rd and 4th grade) and Junior(5th and 6th grade) Hill(female identifying and non binary campers and staff) village director however I knew her prior to 2022 as she was my tent counselor in 2018. Every single day at Oval I would talk to her and hang out with her as I was also best friends with her cousins who were younger so we would all hang out together but as I was struggling and my cousins were also struggling because they were homesick and I was trying to help them and it all just became so stressful, she was always there to talk to and help me out. These two amazing staff members were so, so hard to say see you later to and both just continued to show me why I love Camp Sloane so much, how amazing the community is and remind me why I come back year after year. There were so many other people that were there to support me always, shoutout to the PA staff, my tent counselors Eszter and Mitch(Session 3) and Lou and Mitch(Session 2), all the Student Hill counselors and honestly everyone who just said hi to me and offered to be there to talk. I wish I had the time to give everyone a full story as to how they helped me but Spiegel and Genevieve were just such a huge part of my camp story this year that I really needed to hit on them. Anyway after that night, my experience was changed, I had so much amazing support around me and I made so many friends that I just started to be able to drown out these kids that just wouldn't understand. I was surrounded by such a positive group of people that reminded me why Camp Sloane is just truly such an amazing place. My story this year definitely started out rough but the reason I share it is because I know not everyone’s camp story is magical, there may be some bumps in the road and it's not always the perfect model story but I know everyone still gets something out of their camp experience. I got amazing relationships with people that I still truly miss so much. I know many stories people read about camp are either magical or horror stories but so many of those stories aren't going to be close to yours. So if you are thinking about going to camp I encourage you to keep an open mind. Your story will be different from mine and it will be different from everyone else’s. While as you can tell at the beginning my story was rough, it got so much better and I was crying when I had to leave. I’m in for 2023 and if you are interested in joining the Camp Sloane family and writing your own story then please check it out. It is truly my home away from home and although my story this year is different than any other, as I said earlier even with the bumps in the road, this year was my favorite year ever. 297 until camp starts again and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to go back for my 6th year at Camp Sloane. I’m in Summer ‘23 at Camp Sloane!!!”
Hey, Taylor! I’m glad some really good folks could come through for you and redeem your camp stay after the rocky start. While not everybody at camp can be as understanding as others, it’s great to hear that you’re happy to be a part of the Camp Sloane family! Having fun, making friends, and all-around positivity and growth are what summer camp is all about.
Thanks for your submission, Taylor. For anybody else interested in Camp Sloane, check them out right here. And, as always, thanks for reading.
P.S. Only 239 days, now!