Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Southwoods Story: Tess Shacknow

My Southwoods story is one in which there is so much to say I believe I could write a novel and still not fully capture it. I remember watching endless camp videos as a 10 year old trying to decide where I wanted to go to sleep away camp. I was making the leap from day camp to sleep away camp, which seemed like the most important decision of my life. Who knew that, as a 4th grader, choosing which camp I wanted to go to would make such a major impact on my life 13 years later.
Southwoods was instantly a top contender. Once the pool of options had been narrowed down to just a few we set up a house call from Scott. I have a very distinct memory of him coming into my kitchen and using words like dandy and delicious in only the way he can. He explained everything we needed to know about Southwoods and even brought me a fuzzy. I was hooked. Summer couldn’t come fast enough.
The next five summers were some of the most amazing summers I had ever had. I was able to make new friends, learn new things, conquer new challenges, and learn how to be a leader. Being able to give and receive fuzzies, complete team trek activities, and participate in tribal showed me how to be a good friend and teammate. Having the opportunity to be a chieftain taught me a lot about myself and I still use those skills today.
I always knew that Southwoods was a very special place to me and would always be considered my home away from home. Leaving camp as an Upper Senior and seeing that Southwoods sign fade out the back window of our car was a very sad day. However I think I always knew I’d be back as a staff when I was old enough. One of the greatest things about transitioning from a camper to a staff member is being able to help give the new campers some of the same wonderful camp memories that I myself will never forget. Participating in making their summers unforgettable is such a fun and rewarding experience.
Working at Southwoods has turned me into a better person and I am so grateful for that. The environment that Scott and Andrea have created is one in which you can truly be your best self. I believe that getting to spend a summer in an environment such as this teaches you a lot about yourself. It’s one reason I can’t wait to go back each and every summer. Being a staff member I get the opportunity to facilitate these campers in being themselves and learning who they are and who they want to become.
As I'm about to start my fifth summer as a staff member at Southwoods, I am ready to accept the new challenges and adventures of the super senior trip. I have worn many hats at Southwoods in the shape of cabin specialist, gymnastics specialist, group leader, as well as friend, and role model. I'm excited to return to camp for my tenth summer! Southwoods holds a very special place in my heart as I have made lifelong friends there. Southwoods will always be a part of my life and I am thankful to be part of the Southwoods family.
-Written by Tess Shacknow, Former Southwoods Camper and Current Staff Member

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