Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Southwoods Story: Erica Beinhacker

For the past six years, I’ve attended a summer camp in the Adirondacks called Southwoods. Thinking about the experiences that have shaped me, I believe that my time in camp has taught me several important lessons about life. From getting along with different people, to experimenting with new things.
Over the years I’ve created friendships that will last a lifetime. Camp gave me the opportunity to spend time with friends that I’m the closest with, but rarely see because they live in different parts of the country, or even the world. A few of the kids came to camp from countries like China, Turkey, France, and England. Although, for some of the kids, there was a language barrier between us, we learned how to communicate and, over the course of the summer, I learned about many of their cultures and lifestyles. There was one girl in my camp named Jean who came from China, and barely spoke English, but after a few weeks, she started to speak and connect with the girls in her bunk. She told me that she’d never seen people with different colored skin than her, and that she went to a school where if a person attended who was not of her race, they would be treated differently than everyone else. She was surprised that everyone at camp was treated equally, and were so friendly. By speaking with Jean and spending time with her all summer, I learned more about different cultures and created a friendship that I didn’t imagine possible.
Going to camp opened me up to activities and possibilities that I never thought to explore before. I’d never acted in a play before I went to camp, and didn’t think I would enjoy it. My first year at Southwoods, my counselor suggested I try out for the camp production, Shrek. I was afraid of auditioning because I’d never performed in front of an audience, but I pushed myself to do it, and was shocked when I was given the lead role as “Fiona.” Dedicating myself, memorizing lines, and attending countless rehearsals all paid off when I saw the entire audience clapping and applauding for me.
In addition to friends and activities, camp also taught me life lessons that I will use in the real world. One day we went on a caving trip, and when I was in the enclosed space, in pure darkness and absolute silence, I learned how important it is to take risks. Sometimes you are challenged to step out of your comfort zone, whether you want to or not, and it’s always worth it. You get to try new things, and maybe you will actually enjoy them and continue to pursue them.
I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to attend summer camp because those experiences have impacted my life in so many ways. I built friendships I’ll know and love forever, experienced new possibilities, and learned life lessons I will use throughout my life.
-Written by Erica, Southwoods Camper
November 2015

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