August 13th, 2004 – SJC Session 1
Hi. I don’t know if I should feel honored or mad about the fact that I was selected to do the staff time capsule. At first I was reluctant to do it, but then I realized that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be asked to come back next year. So now that I’m up here, Jeanah… promise me I’m coming back, or I’m stopping now.
So, one of the things that I’ve been hearing a lot this week is that I’m very monotone. People say that my voice never changes, which just isn’t true at all. Now I’ll show you that my voice can change according to my mood. Okay, this is how I sound happy… now I’m angry… now this is me sleepy. But enough of that, back to my happy voice again.
With all kidding aside, this week has just been awesome… there are no other words to describe it. I want to thank Jeanah, Victor, Mark, the rest of the staff, and all the campers for making me feel so welcome and comfortable. I can honestly say that you have all opened my eyes to a world that I never knew existed. To a world that many people back home don’t even know exists, but should. To a world where we might seem different, but are all really so similar. To a world where listening and understanding is just as important as the water on the lake, or the trees that surround us. Over the past week, like a dry sponge, I’ve soaked up a lot of things people have said and done, feeling my heart and mind grow bigger with each passing day from all the things that I’ve been learning about people.
Most of the staff and campers have been coming here for years. Some have told that this is their second, fourth, or even seventh year at camp. Most of you have made Sae Jong Camp a part of your lives. All this week, one of the lines that I’ve been hearing a lot is, “it just wouldn’t be summer if I didn’t come to camp.” Hearing this numerous times from different people made me think a lot, it made me think, hey maybe it would be good for everyone if they got to hear a fresh and new perspective of camp. Just think of me as a really big, brand new junior camper, who is wide-eyed and scared of what’s to come of the week and can eloquently express themselves at a high school level.
First I’ll start with the campsite. Westminster is breathtaking, even with cloudy and cold weather. The first day I got here, I loved the sound of the dirt under my feet, especially the sound of walking down the trails and hearing a twig snap under my feet here and there. The smell of the air was clean, and refreshing. The archaic buildings and cabins that were dated from so far back ago made me feel like I was in a movie. The dirt trails made me want to wander off alone, hoping that it would lead me to some great surprise.
Next I’ll start with the meals. I was expecting some really bad food this week, just because I didn’t really know what to expect (I mean, this is summer camp and all). But the food served here was all really good, actually better than the stuff I eat at home. And I learned what the term, “scraping,” meant. The whole process of scraping the food off all the plates was pretty weird to me, and even made me feel bad to the kids who had to do it. But something that was even weirder to me when I first found out about it was the singing. When I saw tables getting up and singing camp songs, I didn’t really understand it. All I could think was, aren’t we supposed to be eating and not singing. But now I realize that the camp spirit is voiced through songs and music, and without it, camp could not exist.
The third thing I’ll talk about is the people. I have learned so much this past week, from the staff and the campers. Whether it was from listening to my guys in cabin 4, staying up for hours gossiping and getting to know each other, or listening to campers speak sincerely and honestly about their lives in identity classes, you have all taught me so much. You might not know who you are, but I want to thank you. Thank you for listening to me and trying to get to know me. Thank you for accepting me, even if you thought we had nothing in common. Thank you for accepting me, a new person, and letting me share your camp experience with you. And if you don’t think I have anything in common with you, I do. I hurt, get sad, happy and frustrated, just like you. Like anybody else, I too have gone through things that I thought would break me, but then I wouldn’t let them shake me.
I’ll stop here with my perspective on camp. I hope that this has given you guys a small glimpse into my brain and helps you understand me a little bit more. And also it might remind you of your first time at camp, so don’t forget and always remember and appreciate how soft the sand is under your feet, how beautiful the lake is at night, how nightly silence can be broken with one person’s laughter from another cabin, how the dark night can be brightened up by a single flashlight, how the greenies have electricity and working plumbing, how all the graffiti and tagging in the cabins can take you into another world, and how talking all night with your cabin mates can be the start of a beautiful relationship. This is our last night here, and I ask you guys to appreciate all the little things here, like it was your first night ever at Westminster because it’s the little things in life that count.