Andrew O’Brien (2006)

Andrew O’Brien
August 18th, 2006

Several years ago, as an intermediate camper, I had the opportunity to contribute to the time capsule for that year. However, I declined, thinking that of all the campers at camp I had sadly taken the least from it, and the next year I would not return to camp. Years passed and I found myself returning to camp as a staff member. This year I was once again nominated to contribute to the time capsule. Upon hearing this I immediately became eager to do this, not because it was a chance for redemption, but because I finally felt that I had grasp on what Sae Jong Camp has to offer.

As a staff member I had the opportunity to experience a few aspects of camp life; the first being that of staff life and duties. I was a late addition to staff, so coming in I was behind and relatively lost. As a weak sauce attempt to prepare myself, I began to pump myself up and build expectations for the coming week. What I didn’t take into account and what I never could have prepared myself for was the spirit of camp and its campers. I was taken aback by the smiles on the faces of the juniors as I read them Korean fables; the involvement of the seniors as we had discussions in identity; the amount of dedication in my elective class; and the amount of respect throughout all of camp. There was a definite living, breathing energy that inspired me and drove me throughout the week. This camp is thriving with respect, spirit and companionship.

There was even an overwhelming sense of commradery within staff itself. Reflecting on being a part of staff, my mind always seemed to wander to my first real initiation of being thrown into the water. Although I’m sure this is not the last incident I will experience, I noticed that as I was standing up from the lake, soaked in water, I felt an odd sense of acceptance. Even though I didn’t see this as I was flying so gracefully into the water, this was an unorthodox metaphor for Sae Jong Camp. If you let it, this camp can engulf you and capsize you in a sea of compassion; acceptance; solidarity; community and indestructible, everlasting bonds. This feeling of uncontrived, genuine acceptance; acceptance without question nor pretense is a rare blessing. It is a feeling similar to that of the unconditional ties of a family.

Being adopted, I know very well that family is not created or defined by biological ties or genetic lineage. Family is made through trust, love, hope, companionship, community and friendship. Family is made through Sae Jong Camp.