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As I sit in my room in my Teens ‘16 apparel listening to my Taconic playlist on spotify with my tattlers from the past seven years, rope from Taconic games, and my candle from the last night right next to me I am trying to gather the words that can even come close to answering the question “What does camp mean to you?”, because the answer is everything.
On my first bus ride to camp in 2010 I sat nervously waving goodbye to my parents, confused why I would ever voluntarily sign up for seven weeks away from them with complete strangers. When I stepped off of the bus, that thought completely vanished. I was greeted by dozens of smiling faces while they made a tunnel with their hands above me. I went through the tunnel and on the other side I saw the place that I would become my home for the rest of my life. People that I once referred to as strangers have become more than my best friends, but my family. They are the people who I know will be there for me despite everything, supporting me with an infinite amount of love and compassion. The bond that I share with every camper and counselor and senior staff member is one I have never experienced before, and I am positive I will never experience one the same as it. We are all united by camp and even though I may not personally know everyone, the fact that we share something as special as Taconic, makes me feel an incredibly deep connection with them.
My year predominantly consists of counting down until camp, looking through photos, and watching old memory night videos. Camp is consistently in my thoughts and it defines my childhood, as well as who I am. I was once shy, afraid of standing out in a crowd, dependent on my parents, and I resented new experiences. Camp not only motivated me to become the outgoing person that I am today, but it makes me strive to stand out, be independent, and try new things. In addition to the extraordinary people, the aura of camp is indescribable. At the beginning of the day, the whole camp gathers in the Playhouse for “Sing”. There we sing songs from “One Meatball” to “Fight Song” and the best part is that no one is worried about what other people think of them. Honestly, if you aren’t screaming and jumping during “Bohemian Rhapsody” I would be concerned for you. Even at night, that same enthusiasm experienced in the morning has not died down. Every activity is done with such energy that it makes the environment lively and electrified at all times.
Camp has done more than just teach me that it’s okay to embrace who you are, but it has given me opportunities to do things I would never do at home. This year, I tried pioneering. As someone who had never even lit a match in my life, it was incredibly new. Although in the end I was terrible starting a fire, some of my best memories at camp are from pioneering and I am beyond happy that I was able to try something new. Rather than being judged for it, I was accepted and even got some of my friends into it. Camp provides everyone with easy access to new things. All of the activities that camp has to offer gives every camper freedom to try something they have not done before whether that’s the trapeze, waterskiing, or even pioneering.
I am more than grateful for the people I have met, the memories I have made, and the character I have developed because of camp. For a few short weeks every year, I get to go home to my real family. Camp Taconic has given me the confidence to be comfortable with who I am and to go after what I want. I am extremely lucky to have been a camper at Taconic and I am more than excited to see what the future of being an LIT and (hopefully) a counselor has to offer. The Camp Taconic motto is “Catch the magic” and I can confidently say that I have caught the magic.