Camryn, age 14, (also known as Chipmunk—a nickname given to her at a different camp that followed her to Jewell) this summer completed her 6th year at camp. 20140729-224333-81813371.jpg

The first year I came to Camp Jewell I was with a group of my friends from home. They had come before and knew I was outdoorsy so they thought I’d like it. I enjoyed it so much the first words out of my mouth when I saw my mom at pick up were “Can I come for two sessions next year?”

My first summer I was a Nit Nois and I remember our overnight. Everyone was complaining about the bugs and being outside, but I loved it. I’ve always enjoyed the overnights, especially when we slept under the tarps instead of in tents. I actually like when the bugs buzz in my ears, it makes me feel even more connected to nature.

I love everything about camp, especially all the people I meet and the internationals that are here. I’ve never traveled to a different country, but in some ways I feel like I have because of the people I’ve met here from around the world. I love how they bring something new to the table with their different cultures and languages.

The biggest accomplishment I’ve had at camp so far is earning my Golden Paddle in Seniors last session. I did two sessions of seniors last year and I went on the hiking and canoeing trips. I’ve always been really afraid to ride a bike (my mom says I have bikeaphobia) so I planned to go on the hiking trip again and skip going for my Golden Paddle. But when I got to camp the first day my friends helped me decide to go for it. I knew if I put my mind to it I could do it, and the Senior bike counselor, Simon Winston, is a big part of the reason I was successful. He helped put faith in me; he taught me to ride, to use the gears and to make sharp turns. I was nervous the week before the trip when I was learning, but he kept telling me he knew I could do it.

There was one point on the first day of the bike trip where I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. Four miles in we were going down a steep hill and I was going too fast and crashed in a ditch. I was covered in leaves, my knee hurt and I was really upset. Hanna Zibluk, my other counselor, came to me and helped to calm me down. I told her I couldn’t do it anymore but she talked me through it, told me she believed in me and that she’d stay with me so I could go at my own pace. The next thing you know I was riding up and down the hills and I finished the trip. I’m still terrified of going down hills, but I feel really good about having gotten up after that fall and finishing the trip to get my Golden Paddle.

My friends and my counselors really made the difference for me last session. It felt so good to have so many people supporting me and telling me I could do it.

I take the Character Counts at camp really seriously. I work hard at being honest and respectful and if something happens that is my fault I take responsibility for it. I care about the people at camp more than anything because it’s a family here. It’s all the people at camp who keep me coming back year after year.