(A 2022 edit: to donate to camp this year please head to this link for our donate button and our amazon list!
A day or so into camp I was asked if I’d write a letter from the perspective of a camper. I got teary-eyed just contemplating the words I’d scratch on paper. There are a few key things that get me every year at camp. So I took a couple mornings in the gazebo and part of the car ride home to change my perspective to the other side of camp. I’m working on my letter to my Royal Family, but wanted to post this first. Hidden in it are parts of my why. Why I come to camp and why I chose to fly to California to do the thing with the humans I do.
To my counselor,
I was really nervous to come to camp. I had never been to camp before.
There were so many kids there, getting on busses and it was loud and busy. Whenever there are a lot of kids, I usually get forgotten about.
I’m nothing special.
When I got on the bus a kid sat next to me that had been to camp. They told me that the camp people were the nicest people they had met.
That they loved us no matter what.
I couldn’t believe that.
How could someone love you no matter what?
The bus ride felt really long and bumpy.
I felt butterflies start again when it was announced we were almost there.
Would my counselor like me? Would I have a place to sleep? Would there be enough food?
Then the bus turned the corner and there was a big group of people in blue shirts holding signs.
It was so loud and bright and all the people looked so happy.
And that’s when I saw it.
It was printed on a sign, held up by a stick.
And you were there.
Yelling and smiling and cheering.
You knew my name.
When they called out my name you got so excited, like you’d been waiting to meet me all your life.
When we finally got to our room that first day it looked so cool.
And my name was everywhere.
It was even on a blanket.
You told us that people prayed for us and whenever we covered ourselves up we could remember that there were a lot of people who cared about us and loved us without ever seeing us.
I didn’t get it.
How could people love us without knowing us?
This camp wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.
Then it was time to go swimming for the first time.
I got kind of nervous when you said you weren’t swimming with us, but you said you would be back.
I wasn’t so sure. People don’t always come back.
The pool time flew by quickly and then there you were.
You showed up.
You came back.
Just like you said.
And those things didn’t change all week.
You said my name so much, like it was your favorite word.
So did all the people at camp.
My name has never been said, so much, so nicely, ever.
You always smiled at me.
And were so excited about what I had done and accomplished.
You always came back whenever you left for a meeting or dropped me off at the pool.
You always came back.
The end of the week came too fast.
And as we were packing up I noticed you still putting my name on everything. You helped me tuck things in safe places and made sure I had everything I had made.
Right before I got in the bus you gave me a book filled with notes and stickers and pictures of me.
I noticed something about the pictures: I looked happy.
Thank you for reminding me what a smile felt like.
Thank you for always coming back.
Thank you for laughing with me.
Thank you for showing me I was special.
And thank you for knowing my name.