Camp Ocean Pines (C.O.P.) has three very esteemed goals: Connect, Grow, and Explore. These three words go far beneath the initial implications of simply “meeting new friends,” “learning a new activity” or “taking a walk in nature.” They are lessons and opportunities. Lessons for life and facing the challenges presented by future endeavors, and perhaps most importantly, opportunity to discover one’s true, uninhibited self. These ambitions are more than achieved at Camp.
At age ten, I took my first steps onto the beautiful, coastal property. Seven years later I return with an undying excitement for the experiences C.O.P. provides, and no intention of the summer being my last. I grew at camp. From youth to adolescence to young adulthood, camp has been my home away from home and my teacher.
As I showed up to camp on my very first day, I was alone. I knew know one and did not presume to know the phenomenal activities or people that lay in the week ahead. However, I was painfully aware of the conflicts and difficulties I experienced at home, yet by the end, they could not have been farther from my mind. While there are a myriad of reasons my heart lies in the little camp in Cambria, California, this is probably the most prominent: Camp is about future, not past. Irregardless of background, failures, accomplishments, or fears, the counselors, campers, activities and surroundings see the best a person can be and teach them to find it within themselves.
I have not only seen confidence and self sufficiency grow in young campers, through my time as a Counselor-in-Training (CIT) and Junior Counselor (JC), but have experienced it first hand as a camper for five years. Activities such as “team-building,” a developed obstacle course, inspires teamwork between campers of all ages; joining together as a unit, creating trust and friendships, while simultaneously tasking campers to reach beyond their limits, finding the bravery to try new things. Camp has given me productivity, charisma, leadership, and life-long friends.
Today I use the lessons and qualities I learned at Camp in everything I do. From academics to club officer responsibilities to networking for potential jobs; all require the vital lessons camp has to offer: discipline, teamwork, courage, and the desire to never stop learning.
Lastly, just as camp taught me to believe in myself, nature, and others, nothing is more rewarding than doing the same for someone else. As a camper you learn responsibility, but as a member of Camp Ocean Pines’ Leadership Program, you learn to employ it and become a teacher and ally to others. Children may understandably enter as timid, nervous, and unsure of themselves or their surroundings, yet leave with the courage to climb a rock wall, the confidence to dance on a stage, and the charisma to befriend everyone.
If there is one thing I can say with complete sincerity, it is that camp allowed me to connect, grow, and explore. I could not have asked for a better family.