View profile

Gratitude to Youth Leadership Camps Canada

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.
CIT 2019
CIT 2019
Like many others, I felt a deep sense of safety, belonging, connection, and acceptance at this place. It was heartbreaking to hear that camp is closing, especially for youth who still have yet to experience such a magical place. Even though I feel immense joy and gratitude for what was, I also feel sad for what could have been.
I’ve been learning that grief can come in many forms, because change can come in many forms. Whether it be the loss of a routine, a core belief, a relationship, a place that holds memories, an experience, we can grieve for some sort of loss.
I realized how important it is to make space for nuances that come up with grief. Even though change can come with exciting opportunities and new things to look forward, we can also grieve for loss that comes with change.
I feel so privileged and grateful for my experiences and the people I met through YLCC. Although I’m mourning for the physical place because of the experiences and feelings it’s associated with, the people is what made it so special. If I and many others were able to create that feeling of safety at camp, that means we can also foster those feelings in the experiences we create outside of camp. It may be different, but the feelings will be the same.
With love,
And for my camp family, goodnight but not goodbye
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
Reema AlYousef

sharing stories and exploring human emotion

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.