Camp is a place full of heart. I have worked at a camp in Minnesota for over two years and have given countless hours to help, support and nurture every unique camper that comes. Camp relies on volunteers and donors, as it is non-profit; like many across America. It caters for children and young adults of all categories and was founded on the idea that everyone should be able to be themselves. Whilst working in America, I have been able to develop my career goals and support network, but unknowing to myself I have been diagnosed with the ‘Camp’ bug. This bug hooks and pulls you back to camp repeatedly. It starts off slowly then rushes into your system like a fire burning; you feel warm and happy, like your favourite memory keeps coming back to you again and again. I have had the chance to impact campers and counsellors lives in ways people can only imagine. I found comfort, support, energy, confidence, uniqueness, love, and family.
There is a term discussed in the education system called Educational Bulimia. The disease scatters through schools from childhood to Adulthood, to homes through education and through your life. We go to school to metaphorically eat and absorb the knowledge, only to go into a test and throw it all up before moving onto the next one. At camp the campers can learn and experience things that they would never have done and felt before; from nerves on the first day to tears at the end when they leave. They learn life lessons and can better their lives and those around them. They do not get the same education as school, they get something much better; a vast knowledge of life and a family. I am blessed to have been able to come to camp for the time that I have. It has impacted my life in more ways than I can imagine. Showing me a community, beauty and harmony that is not always present in life.
In camp we follow SPARC. S for safety, P for participation, A for acceptance, R for respect and C for compromise. The counsellors try to have the campers absorb SPARC into their everyday life, making the campers able to progress in more positive ways; helping them to get the most out of life. SPARC, to me, can also mean; S for security, P for passion, A for ambition, R for rejuvenation and C for connection. Everything that I have learnt and encompassed from Camp. Camp has changed me, and day by day I become a better person in myself and I am now able to be comfortable in my own body, because at camp you can be completely yourself and no one will judge you. If I did not come to camp I would be entering my career as a regular teacher, which terrifies me, but now I am a Camp teacher and both meanings of SPARC run through my veins. It makes me laugh, it makes me frustrated at times, it makes me dream about the times I shared with campers and it makes me cry every time I must say bye. Camp changes lives and the community you meet accept you with open arms, love and care. People search forever for their home, but I have found my home in Camp.
By Rory Formstone- Roberts