Written By: Michelle Goulter
In 2013 I was 20 years old, I had moved away from my hometown of Millmerran (a small western Queensland country town of only 1500 people) and was dying for an adventure overseas. With very little convincing, I booked a one-way ticket to Canada where I have spent the better half of the last four years. Summer Camp has changed my life. There are hundreds of reasons why I want to thank Summer Camp, but here are my top 5.
1. It gave me my life motto
I have loved every minute of my travels and I am proud to say I don’t regret anything I have done in my life, basically because I rarely say no to an adventure. The motto ‘just do it’ is what I have learned to live by since my first summer at camp. When an opportunity comes my way, I just do it. I believe that if I am happy, working hard and growing as a person then everything will work out just as it is meant to! I have summer camp to thank for teaching me to have an optimistic outlook on life and giving me the courage and spontaneity to go wherever the world takes me.
2. It made me the person I am today
I want to thank summer camp for giving me the opportunity to become that person I am today. In 2013 I spent my first summer working at camp. It was truly a life changing eleven weeks. From the first day I arrived, I was surrounded by incredibly friendly, happy and outgoing people who quickly became lifelong friends. For the first time in my life, I was able to be myself without judgment or criticism from a single person around me. I lived and worked in a world where differences were encouraged and speaking your mind was praised. Children were able to be children without the fear of being bullied because of the way they looked, their beliefs, religion, sexual orientation etc. There was no pressure from the technological world because there was no technology; just good friends, mesmerizing campfires, infectious laughs and beautiful Lake Temagami.
3. It taught me unimaginable life lessons
Thank you, summer camp for teaching me so many life lessons and skills that have changed the way I act, how I interact with people and the way I strive to influence children’s lives. Being able to take a step back from a situation and see it from another’s perspective is one of the best lessons I was taught at camp. By not judging someone on the way they look, the amount of money they earn, where they are from or bad decisions they have made in the past can allow you to see people in a whole new way. Everyone deserves to be treated and respected equally; one of the core values of any summer camp. By Looking at all aspects of life in a positive way is a truly refreshing way to think. When everyone around you is thinking positively too… well, that is just a great place to live and work!
4. It gave me my camp family
Thank you, summer camp for my camp family. My camp family is the co-workers and bosses that I have had the pleasure of working with during my four summers at camp. These are people that I have known for just a few weeks every summer but with the power of summer camp, have positively influenced my life in so many ways. Every day they push me to get out of my comfort zone, do things I never thought possible and allow me to make mistakes and learn from them. I have these people to thank for me becoming the person I am today.
5. It helped me make a difference to the world by changing children’s lives
Thank you, summer camp for helping me change children’s lives. Summer camp is a truly magical place that is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced such a place. Of course, camp is full of chances for self-growth but the most amazing part of camp is seeing the change you can make in a child’s life. It is a feeling that you can only get once you have witnessed a child be part of a community where they feel like they belong, where their voice really matters and where they can make friends that last a lifetime. I have seen children in just two short weeks go from being shy, insecure and timid to be confident, outgoing and courageous. I witnessed one of my 9-year-old campers arrive at camp on the first day without the self-confidence to say hello to the person next to them and then just ten days later singing by herself in front of two hundred people at the talent show. It is such an unbelievably rewarding feeling to know that child’s life has now changed because of the love, care, and kindness you have shared with them.