My First Camp Experience

hillary2By Hillary Southard
Rye Y Camp, Teen and Family Director

At one time in my life I had purple Keds with large white polka dots on them. I wore them every day and everywhere. They were my favorite shoes.  They were also my only shoes, but of course to a five year-old, that automatically makes them favorite. Growing up in California, we had the Sierra Nevada mountain range within a few hours of our home.  One summer we packed our bags, I put my polka dots shoes on, and we drove a few hours to a place my parents referred to as “camp”.  I had been told about camp before.  They said it was a fun place…I could go swimming…make new friends…play games.

As we drove nearly a mile into the sky, wrapping around what seemed like endless mountains and drop-offs surrounded by the tallest trees I have ever seen, I could feel my ears popping, and I began to become hesitant about this thing they called camp.  The closer we got, the more excited my parents got, the more nervous I became.  What if I didn’t make any friends or all-of-a-sudden forgot how to swim?!

I remember looking at my shoes as my feet dangled off the end of the car seat and began to count the number of white polka dots on them.  I already knew how many were there, but I felt like I needed to count them again.  We rounded the last corner, pulled up to the entrance, rolled down our windows and a group of teenagers I had never seen before, all wearing the same bright orange shirt, came running over to my window and they were so happy to see me!  They started singing a song with MY name in it and clapping and dancing.  Immediately I felt like a star and that this was MY camp and that my shoes and I are going to be just fine.