My first summer going to camp was “interesting.” I didn’t want to go originally, but a friend kept bugging me over and over again to go. Eventually I caved in and signed up. I met Sydney and immediately noticed how outgoing she was…which was REALLY good because I was nervous. Throughout the entire camp she led a small group of people (campers and counselors) around the low ropes course. I didn’t have to think hardly at all because she just did it all. I remember the first camp FLEW BY WAAAY TOO FAST and I was really bummed to say bye to Sydney. I had so much fun completing challenges with her, rushing to breakfast together, getting beat in card games, and hearing pieces of her story. As I drove home I was already thinking about the second year and hoping she would show up. I wanted to beat her at cards, learn more about her, and scream louder as she tackled the high ropes and zip line. When she showed up the second year I got a HUGE hug and it was hard for me to not to think about how quickly camp would end. By the third year we kind of just expected to see each other and running jump-hugs ensued. Our third camp was held at a different location so we were able to “explore” the activities “for the first time” again. I started thinking about mentoring Sydney outside of camp after our third camp ended. . The last two years at camp has been very different for us. Other counselors are meeting their campers for the first time, and mine already knows I need coffee ASAP when I wake up. Other counselors don’t know what to say to their camper, we have inside jokes…from three years ago. Over the last five years, I have met many kids through Teen Leadership Camp, but Sydney will always be my munchkin. Since our first camp I have watched her heart grow so much. When she was twelve she struggled trying to find explanations for her situation, now at sixteen she isn’t consumed by those reasons. She focuses, instead, on her future goals and college plans. When she was twelve she got along with everybody because of her bouncy personality, now she gets along with everyone because she listens to their stories and shares in their pain. Sydney stands out from other kids in many ways. She is very self motivated and thoughtful. She always helps to take care of her little sister and at camp she looks out for other rookie campers. She isn’t swayed by peer pressure and she isn’t intimidated to stand up for what’s right. She has found an obvious inner peace with GOD and that brings SO MUCH beauty to her face and joy to her voice.
– Tina; TLC counselor and mentor