Pass the Mic
More than S’mores: My Experience at Summer Camp
By Nadia Kharoufeh, Girl Scout Senior and Media Ambassador
As you pack your bags to go to Camp Willow Springs, you start to get excited, but nervous. Though you’ve been there before, it feels like you’re going for the first time again, then suddenly a spark of fear burns within you with feelings of homesickness. You start to feel the pre-camp jitters and ask yourself scary questions like “Will I meet new people?” But as you are on your way to camp, both feelings start to increase. Your excitement is wondering “Are we there yet?” while your fear asks, “Can I go home?”
Over the past couple of years, you’ve noticed a change in your mental health. The truth is that a lot has changed over time. There was COVID-19, going to a new school, starting a new grade level, and much more. You become anxious of everything that could go wrong, but you remember something important: everyone goes through at least a couple rough situations in their life, and nobody is spared from experiences that can take a toll on your mental health. And though it sounds frightening at first, there are always ways to get out. You assume the rest of the Girl Scouts with you are stressed about this trip too, but everyone seems to be there for each other, making you feel at ease.
The thing about Girl Scouts is that nobody gets left behind. You think back to your past trips and realize that this special element of going to camp has positively impacted your self-esteem/mental health. You discover that no matter how alone you feel at first, you are never going to be lonely.
You arrive at camp and connect with other campers instantly. As you and the rest of your cabin unit start walking to the campfire, you take in your surroundings. You see the wildlife, the trees, and the mountains. It is good to take in the nature around you. After all, before anyone went to camp, technology was one of the highlights of everyone’s lives. You start to come to the conclusion that disconnecting can be good because life slows down. There's no need to rush here nor the pressure from social media. When you breathe in, you feel the beautiful chill of the air rush into your lungs. When you exhale, your heart fills with joy because of the relief of being away from a quick-paced life.
Does this experience sound familiar? Before you went to camp, how were you feeling mentally? What happened when you returned? I believe Girl Scouts holds a special place in all our hearts, not just because of the s’mores, but because of the opportunities we have to strengthen and take care of our mental health. Summer camp has a special way of building confidence and character, and like other Girl Scout programs, encourages us to be the best version of ourselves.