Longtime camp-goer bids adieu to childhood memories

This summer was one with lots of built-up hype for me. I was working, visiting colleges, sleeping and, most importantly, I was ending my time as a camper at my home-away-from-home. This year marked the 10th summer I have been a part of the camp family. Sky Ranch has many sweet memories tucked away in Van, TX. From the daily morning walks up Happy Hill to breakfast at Oak Haven to not-so-secret howling sessions in the middle of the night on the old Skywaii dock, it seems that even the air there hums with jubilation.

Saying goodbye was not a task that I was ready for.

Nine years ago, I finally found that sense of joy everyone talked about within their daily lives. Except mine only lasted for a week. So, after my second summer, I decided to extend the joy to a two-week period. For seven years this was my escape from the “real world.” I would go to camp, be happy and then carry on with my life back back in Dallas kicking and screaming, waiting for summer to roll around so I could go “home.” But after last year, something changed. As I left all my friends in Van July 2013, I started to realize that now I had one last chance to be a camper. This left me a little cold because that meant I needed to face reality – and that wasn’t desirable. So I did what I always do: I pushed it away and carried on like usual. All through junior year the thought would creep up on me, but I wouldn’t allow it precedence. I was not ready to face it. I put off thinking about leaving until the second-to-last Friday at camp this year.

After a mishap with some peanut butter in a s’more taco, 13,000 feet of mountain and Benadryl and Epinephrine, I found myself in the back of an old-ish Ford Escape on the way to a Gunnison, CO hospital. Basically what happened was I didn’t hear the bit about peanut butter being apart of the “choco taco” for dessert during our mountain adventure campout. So I took a two bites and noticed that my tongue felt funny — almost like I was having an allergic reaction. It then occurred to me that that was what was happening, so I ran over to nurse Fran for emergency drugs and prayers of protection (which were not requested, but appreciated; thank you Jesus). And since I had stabbed myself with the Epipen, we had to go down the mountain to Sunny Gunni, which was about an hour away, leaving me a lot of time for introspection.

Maybe it was the cocktail of drugs coursing through my veins, but I felt especially philosophical, lost in a train of thought. I started thinking about how Sky Ranch had changed my life in so many ways. I have loads of wonderfulfriends to walk through my life with and so many amazing stories. And as I entered the sterile hospital, it dawned on me that the joy of camp is not a place-based thing. This wonderful joy I have been blessed with, is with me always — no matter where I am. Does it sound super cheesy? Yeah. Has somebody probably said it before? Most likely. But that doesn’t make it any less real for me or for anyone else with a positive camp experience. And because I learned this deep truth about myself, I now understand that I can have that camp “high” (if you will) in the “real world.”