I found out that my favourite camp, Youth Leadership Camps Canada (YLCC), is celebrating its 30th and last year. It continues to astonish me everytime I reflect on how my experiences at YLCC led me to who I am today.
I’ve been pretty open about my insights on my newsletter. I’ve found writing to be a great outlet. There’s something about being able to put seemingly intangible experiences and feelings into words.
But today, I’m struggling. I’m trying to grasp and put into words how it felt like to be a part of the YLCC community. Those feelings of belonging, love, acceptance, and safety. But I’m finding it hard to emulate it through writing. After all, how can I put into words all the stories, connections, conversations, hugs, tears, smiles, high-fives, inside jokes, campfires, journal sessions, morning dips, trips, aha-moments, breakthroughs, and emotions that accompany all those experiences? I may be able to come close, but not fully.
My first week at YLCC as a 13 year old was tough. It was my first time away from home for 2 weeks. I was homesick. But I won’t forget the remarkable memory that was the catalyst for my love for this place.
It was a Wednesday, and it was the first day of a 2-day camping trip with my group. We settled down in a dusty, open area and it was unbearably sunny. I couldn’t continue to resist feeling homesick, so I decided to have a conversation with my counsellor after we put up our tents. We sat on a grey rock and I had one goal: Get out of this place.
But during our conversation, I agreed to stay to at least the Friday of that week. The shift in my decision to sit through the discomfort completely changed my life. I loved it so much that I came back for another 2 weeks that same summer and the next three summers.