On June 1st I boarded a plane to Washington D.C, my decision still felt uncertain as though I wished I could go back home. Nonetheless, many hours later I was in a car with strangers on the way to YMCA Camp Letts. In November of 2018 I signed myself up to work at a charity children’s camp over the summer, teaching children how to ride and care for horses. The camp was in Maryland with a lot of heat and humidity, it was a big change from Scotland. There was a long dirt road upon arriving to camp, and then suddenly you were face to face with lots of people, who you would be spending almost 3 months with.
At first it seemed a lot to take in, there were about 80 others who had also signed up to camp. In the first few days I still felt unsure if I had made the correct decision by going there. Staff training lasted two weeks but thinking about it now seems as though it was faster. I don’t remember quite when it happened but somewhere in these two weeks, the strangers that surrounded me soon became my camp family. We were all there because we wanted to work with kids. There was a common goal of bettering children’s lives, and it seemed we began to create this supportive environment where children could flourish and be themselves.
Thinking about all my worries before I left, they all seem so small now. Sometimes I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to talk to family and friends over the summer. However, the support I received from everyone at home made me feel as though they were right there with me. They gave me the strength and confidence to make me realise that what I was doing was the best experience of my life. Furthermore, having the help form Edinburgh University encouraged me to appreciate how lucky I was. I knew as well working with children all the time would make me miss my 8 year old brother, but there was a large part of me knowing I was setting a good example for him.
Last but not least, the kids had the most impact of me, many of them I’ll remember in years to come. They were each unique in their own way, and they became like your younger brother or sister. They could make you laugh and cry all within a minute, and sometimes they would make you work extra hard. But every day with the kids at camp I cherish, they’ll forever inspire me to be the best person I can. Reflecting on camp now I feel as though I was living the American dream working in the great outdoors with horses and children, I couldn’t have asked for a better summer.
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