The Endless Summers and Reflections

    My past summers at Camp Sweeney consist of some of the most magnificent and vibrant memories and experiences of my life. I have loved every day I have spent there, and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. My best friends and the coolest people I have ever met came from here. I always have a blast at Camp Sweeney and every summer I come back as a better, improved person.


One of the camp’s traditions is a hike at the end of the three week session called the seven-year hike. This hike is for all campers who have attended camp for over seven summers. I attended Camp Sweeney every summer since I was six years old, and I experienced my first hike in the summer of 2004. This hike occurs on the third from the last night of camp, and is a reflection of memories.


I and about twenty-five other campers were exempt from the night’s activities. Our counselors dropped us off at the camp’s chapel right after dinner, located only a couple minutes away from the cabins. They then went to the campfire scheduled for the night with the remainder of the camp. Some of those present in the chapel were counselors who had spent seven or more summers at Sweeney as a camper and a counselor. They led the hike by first taking attendance and then lead us to the activities for the night. We disembarked towards the woods, conversing with excitement to each other about various topics into the obscure darkness of the night. For me and a few others, we hiked in to the unknown.


We headed on a scenic hiking trail that took us on a path following the circumference of Lake Dealey-the camp’s lake. It was dusk now, and the sun set delightfully over the large lake. The sky displayed endless sorts of abstract colors-the beauty of it is literally indescribable.  The clouds were pastel ribbons of pink. After hiking for about ten minutes, we arrived at our first stop. It was the original area where campfires were held at Camp Sweeney. It was the place that the campfires were held my first summer there at Camp Sweeney. The counselors told us that we need to be reverent and quiet from this point on, and to start reflecting on the memories of the summers we had spent there.


I thought about all of the friends I had made, and all of the people I had met over the years. I thought about some of the things that made camp what it is today. Traditions only campers and counselors would understand about camp such as the fictional story of Calvin Beagledorf, Dr. Zordvirideon, and the Jurangedon.


As I summed up my thoughts, we arrived to the first activity of the hike-a few minutes away from the camp site. The darkness of the night now made it nearly impossible to see in front of myself. We now went on a trail that I had never hiked before. The hiking trail was not cleared, and we all hiked in between the trees. We often walked in to the path of gigantic spider webs woven in these various trees. I have never seen such large spider webs in my life, and they were the sort of webs you would dream about in a nightmare. The sticky spider webs would attach to my skin and my clothes, and it was sickening and scary whenever I ran in to one. We eventually came to a stop in the woods a few minutes later, and the counselors instructed the strongest person to lift a huge tree limb. He could not do it even when exerting full strength. The counselors then asked for everyone to lift the limb together. We all lifted the limb without much effort, and tossed it deep in to the woods. This represents that when you are in need, your friends are always there to help solve your problems. This is done with a lot less effort than when a task is performed alone.


           We continued to hike, and we became quieter and more reverent as each minute passed. We then arrived at the second activity of the hike; we were on a hill in a meadow. Star-lit fireflies surrounded us in the utter silence of the woods. I had never seen fireflies before in my life, and I easily became distracted by them. At this point, everyone in the group formed a circle. A counselor in my cabin named Sandra told us to think about our first day of camp-the people we met, the friends we made, who was our big sister/brother, and our initial response to the Camp Sweeney way of life.


            Sandra pulled out a ball of yarn from her backpack and told us that the yarn had no ends. She told us friendships are for a lifetime, and they never end just like the yarn. Your friends will always be there for you, no matter what. Sandra held the end of the string, and proceeded to tell us about her first summer at Camp Sweeney. After she was finished, she tossed the ball of yarn to a camper who did the same routine as her. This eventually created a web, proving that friends last forever.


            When it was my turn, I told everyone about my first summer at camp. Most of the people there I had known for a long time, nearly forever. I had known many from my first summer at camp. It was difficult to talk about it for many reasons I still don’t know why. I told them that I was six years old, and I was excited to spend time away from my parents. I told my friends that I was nervous because it was my first time to be away from my parents. My big sister, otherwise known as a college student counselor, gave me a big hug and welcomed me to camp. I knew everything was going to get better for me at camp.


My big sister’s name was Shelly, and she was assigned to me and a few other campers to make us feel welcome at camp. All counselors have this job, and I still look up to them even though I am much older now. I don’t remember much about her, but I remember her being very cool. She was a friend to me. I also remember Shelly and another counselor named Adrian, an ex-camper, giving each other a quick kiss at the carnival. I thought this was strange and I began singing a popular kindergarten chant in my head “Shelly and Adrian sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g--first comes love…” I came back the next summer and on the first day I asked the counselors what happened to Shelly. They told me she married Adrian. The counselors in my cabin said they were all invited to the wedding ceremony and it happened in March. I was surprised and amazed that a relationship like that could be created at a place like camp. I was happy for her, but I still missed her.


            I also told them that leaving camp is probably going to be the hardest thing I will have to do. All of the years I have spent there people have always been there to support me, and I have always been there to do the same. I still don’t believe I can ever give that up but I will in a couple of years.


            We left the web where we created it, and we then proceeded to the final activity. The first-time seven year hikers were blindfolded, including me. I was lead and guided blindly to a place in the woods. I arrived at a small canyon, and the beauty of it was very distracting. There were candles lit surrounding us in a circle with the safe in the middle. The safe was opened, and it contained over 50 years worth of campers signatures who had spent over seven summers at camp. The passage inside of the book was read to us and said something like this “This book contains the names of campers who have maintained their health by spending seven summers at Camp Sweeney.” The blindfolded members, including myself, signed the book. We then sang the camp song in honor of all of those people who had achieved this goal. We blew out the candles and locked the safe, and we boarded a boat taking us to the dock.


            We headed to the lodge. We were greeted and congratulated by the medical staff. The med staff never sleeps. We all did the routine, first testing our blood sugars, then we were dosed for insulin. It was two o’clock in the morning, and we were fed a bedtime snack of cold pizza dining at the tables. We finally retired to bed soon and had to rise at seven o’clock the next morning.


            This was my favorite night at Camp Sweeney and I hope to never forget about it. This place is my home, and it will always be a sacred place for me. We as campers share the same similarities and are sometimes struggles for us. We all have diabetes. I would never try to wish my diabetes to go away because I have met some of the greatest people in my life from it. I wish every person could know how it feels to have friends and memories like I do from camp.

shining0starlet shining0starlet
18-21, F
Apr 27, 2007