Students show different perspectives of summer camp

August 29, 2017

When finals are over and summer begins, some students are jam-packed with sports practices, vacations, summer assignments, and camps. There are many students at Westside who attend summer camps all around the world. From your traditional summer camp, to unique specialty teen trips, here are some first hand experiences of both.

Sophomore Eleanor Dodge spent three weeks of her summer at a sailing and scuba camp in the Caribbean. While she was there she lived on a sailboat with around 10 other kids and two counselors. The “home base” for their camp was the island Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Dodge received her open water scuba diving certification while there, along with her ASA 101, which is the basic certification for a keelboat; another term for the type of sailboat Dodge lived on and sailed.

While at the camp, Dodge as well as the other campers got to experience living on a boat while traveling to islands all around the Caribbean. A few of the places Dodge traveled to while there included the British Virgin Islands, French Virgin Islands, as well as Dutch Virgin Islands.

“Sailing to different islands and countries, you really get to experience ‘life on the boat’,” Dodge said. “It’s a really different kind of living especially because you have to learn how to work with people that you’ve just met, and live with them in very close quarters for 3 weeks. You really don’t have your own space; it’s only a fifty foot boat for 13 people. You have to learn how to get along with everyone and settle your differences calmly”.

Being in small quarters for a long period of time allowed Dodge to develop strong friendships with several of the other campers and especially her two roommates.

“With my roommates, we worked really well together and kept our stuff organized, and just became really close friends; we knew we could lean on each other and such,” Dodge said. “It was really rough at the airport saying goodbye. It was kinda hard because all of a sudden these people you’ve been with for three weeks straight, you don’t get to see them anymore.”

Spending three weeks of her life in a region where she’d never been, Dodge became much more accomplished and culturally aware.

“I definitely feel like more of an experienced person,” Dodge said. “I have so many cool memories to keep with me, and I’ve just learned more about myself and how I can work with people. I’ve also learned different cultural things and how people in other parts of the world lives are so different than ours.”

Westside senior Benjamin Brodkey also attended a notable summer camp this past summer. Brodkey has been going to Camp Sabra, a traditional summer camp that incorporates Jewish aspects, for the past eight summers. Camp Sabra is located in Rocky Mount, Missouri near the Lake of the Ozarks. This summer, Brodkey was a counselor and specialist there for 9 weeks.

“I had a role which was both a counselor and a specialist,” Brodkey said. “For two weeks I was a specialist, and for two weeks I was a counselor; however I stayed in the cabin the entire time. As a specialist I worked in two different areas, I worked in judaics and music. I was part of a group that oversaw all of the music and all the jewish aspects of camp.”

Having spent almost his entire summer at camp, Brodkey describes leaving camp and all the friends he made very difficult.

“[Leaving camp] is always tough,” Brodkey said. “Going from a situation where you are living with this brand, new group of people for a period of time, and these people become your family and part of your life; leaving is hard. As a counselor, you become your camper’s parent for four weeks, and you become responsible for them. You really get to know your kids and grow affection for them, and coming back to reality, not being able to see these kids you’ve impacted, is so tough.”

Coming back to camp this summer as a counselor rather than a camper was a lot different for Brodkey.

“Being a counselor was a lot of fun, but it also means a lot more added responsibility since you’re taking care of 10 kids,” Brodkey said. “I learned how to be a better friend, a better role model and grew as a musician; as well as grew in height.”

Yet another Westside student who attended a unique summer camp was sophomore Emma Miller. Miller has been attending Camp Thunderbird for Girls, in Bemidji, Minnesota, since she was 7 years old. While spending 7 weeks there, the camp continued to remind her to focus on the outdoors and nature, as well as not being dependent on technology.

Miller being one of the older age groups, got to travel around and out of the Northern part of the country, specifically South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, as well as several parts of Southern Canada.

“Since my camp really focuses on nature, outdoors, and backpacking, as you get older you go on more trips,” Miller said. “When I was younger we’d go on a fishing trip about an hour away from camp. This past summer, we were at the actual camp for 5 days, and then we packed up all the supplies we needed, and started our 6 week road trip and backpacking trip.”

Having spent 7 weeks of her summer with the same group of girls for the past 8 years, Miller has made strong connections and friendships with all of them.

“I can’t even put into words how much of a bond you have with [camp friends] when you live together, sleep together and eat together for two months straight; and when you come home it just feels like something’s missing,” Miller said. “Every year it gets harder to say goodbye when camp’s over.”

Although every summer Miller is reminded just how important nature and our environment truly are, she has the same take-away almost every year.

“I understand what is important in life,” Miller said. “There’s more to life than your phone or T.V.. Your friends will always be there for you, but your electronics may not. A lot of people our age can’t really say that; and it really makes me understand what matters in life and what I actually need.”


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