After a nearly hour long commute home on a rainy Monday afternoon I opened up an innocuous email to find out absolutely devastating news. The summer camp I had grown up attending and consequently working at as a young adult was closing, effective immediately. Summer camp elicits lots of stereotypes and images for different people but this news is truly heartbreaking for me. I’m in full-on processing mode but here (in brief) is what Camp Sandy Cove meant to me.
I started attending when I was probably 9 or 10 in the mid-90s. It was in Pennsylvania back then and I was just a kid but I loved it. Soccer, archery, outdoor cooking, endless food and games. It was a blast. I attended only a week for a few summers and then three weeks and then, in my last summer as a camper, 4 or 5 weeks.
I knew that I had to become a counselor ASAP and entered their leadership program in the summer of 2000. I failed miserably, took 2001 off, and returned in 2002 for their counselor in training program. This was one of many, many times where through challenges and adversity I grew and matured at camp to become a better version of myself.
I returned as staff in 2003 and had a fun, if challenging summer. I needed to fully grow into the role of camp counselor. The next summer the camp moved to a property in West Virginia and I was off and running. I served on staff in the summers of 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012. I’m beyond grateful for these experiences.
Camp was so much hard work and so much fun at the same time. I played games, led activities, taught Bible lessons, sang crazy and beautiful songs, mentored other staff, and on days off went to IHOP late at night. Some of my very best memories are associated with experiences at camp.
Camp was a safe place for me growing up and into adulthood. I could be wild and crazy at camp. I could make friends at camp in a way I never could at home. I felt free at camp to just have a blast and be myself. One memory of so many that sticks in my head is of singing Isaiah 40 as a teenager in the middle of the woods under the stars after bringing our mattresses out to a fire-pit for the night. So many moments like this will be with me for the rest of my life.
People spoke into me at camp. They taught me and encouraged me. I would never have been leadership staff at camp if one of the Directors had not floated the idea to me four summers earlier. He saw in me things I don’t think I ever would have. I will always be grateful for the opportunities and experiences I had at camp.
So again I’m sitting here just lost in thought, and feeling, and emotion. I am but one person over nearly 70 years that camp impacted. I hope people reading this will rekindle great memories of themselves at camp as well.
Cups up to CSC. It will be deeply missed.