“9 years out of a possible 12. 3 years come and gone with an empty feeling. Every year of Sae Jong Camp has been great, but as time goes on, you realize how much of a prominent role it plays in your growth and life. My growth started in 1997. I know, I’m “aged”. All remember from that year is my first camp crush, a Ms. Elsie Hong, and the complaints from Westminster staff concerning my 5-day showerless stench. From then on, the stories my family told me finally felt real. Theses deep family roots in camp only became stronger as I came back year after year. The years resulted in new friendships, camp romances, a bit of drama, cross-dressing, watching the cute juniors grow into interesting teenagers, but most of all, a discovery of myself.
I learned to take pride in my heritage. I learned about the history of a people who’ve overcome many obstacles, much like all of us. I learned a language, foreign to our tongues, bu entwined with our very being. This place gave me an experience found nowhere else. This place called Sae Jong Camp. Stepping off the bus this past Sunday, knowing that this was my last year, I was determined to make this a year to remember, not only for myself, but for everyone else. I’ve embarrassed myself to no end, contributed to my cabin won the Big Game, and played and lost basketball to a bunch of oldies, which happened to result in a dirty, sandy mess. But camp is so much more than all that. It’s about sharing stories. It’s about our interacting with new people. It’s about making not friends, but brothers and sisters, and turning into the person you were destined to become with the help of your friends and the staff. Writing this message has brought flashes of the past and feelings of sadness and joy. But there’s no reason to be sad. There is only a reason to be joyful and inspired. A feeling this isn’t the end, but a beginning to so many new adventures. That’s why I ask all future campers to not make this a week away from home. Make it a week filled with endless possibilities. Help this camp to grow so that others may come to find a place where they belong. So to all of you listening or reading, know that SJC isn’t just something that disappears from your life. It’s part of who you are. Continue to make this family grow. And with that, I don’t say goodbye, but see you all again next year.”