Gemma was our co-head lifeguard this past year and came to us from Camp Leaders. She is currently back home in England, but she is planning on coming back to CFA next summer as a counselor.
How is being back home? Do you miss camp?
Well I have been back in England for just over a month now, coming up on a month and a half..And I am only just getting used to not being at camp anymore!!!
Being able to see my family and friends back in England was really nice after being so far away from them for 3 months, and I have had plenty of Texas stories to tell them, some crazy dance moves along to the country songs....and a fair few sayings and words too!!! Y'all, There it is... 'Merica and HEY HEYYYYY are all top contenders in my vocab at the moment :) and not forgetting 'Rookie Mistake'
The time I spent at camp was the best experience of my life so far, and I met some of the most amazing people that will stay in my heart forever and have all made a lasting impact on my life, so it's definitely fair to say that I miss camp a lot, everything about it brings a smile to my face when I think back to the summer that I've had. Every week that goes by means that I'm a week closer to being back out in Texas to the place I love!!!!
What are some of your favorite memories from last summer?
Wow, now that's a tough one, I have so many!!!
The opening days when the new campers would arrive feeling a little bit apprehensive about what awaited them for the week ahead (the nervousness was normally short-lived and dissappeared when we'd made a fool of ourselves by dancing to the random camp songs that were being played on the radio as they arrived!!!)
I used to really LOVE going to Blue Bead ceremony every friday with my cabin :) I'd love the build up to it when the whole camp would be lined up waiting patiently to start our little jouney to the magical atmosphere that was waiting for us along with Otega and Running Bear from the Apache and Comanche tribes. I think that it felt so special because every single camper from youngest to oldest could hear about a story that could relate to their own life journeys, and it's one that will stay with them forever. The fires that were lit when we got there added to the atmosphere too, and I used to love seeing all of the embers floating up into the night sky toward the blanket of stars that were always shining over us all out there.
I'll tell a couple more of my favourite memories and leave it at that because I could carry on going all day!!!
One memory that always makes me smile is when I was with one of the younger cabins for the week, and me & my co-co had been at the climbing wall in strong hall with them. Once we had finished the activity and everybody had a turn, there was our cabin in there and a boy's cabin too. Well there was still a bit of time before we had to head up to lunch so I started a game up with our girls. We had 2 teams, one group of us were all wild animals from monkeys, to tigers and wolves, and the other group were the zoo keepers that had to make sure each animal was inside a cage (the cage was the a square on the floor in strong hall). The boys stood by and watched for a while, and then they came over and asked if they could join in the game too which I thought was pretty cool. So from nothing, we were all in strong hall making random animal noises - running around and laughing. I think that has to be one of my favoutie memories because it was such a simple game, yet everybody wanted to join in and we were all having a great time playing it :)
All of my memories from being with the other counsellors at camp are really nice ones, and thinking back on it now brings a lump to my throat and makes my eyes water at how we all ended up like family after spending such an amazing summer together...we made each other laugh, we gave each other hugs, we made up crazy handshakes & we each left part of our hearts there through the laughterand the love that we shared with each other.
Where is your favorite place on camp and why?
That would have to be up on Mount Vesper, when the sun was setting and the stars came out. It was one of the most beautiful sights that I have seen, being out beneath all of the stars - with just the moonlight and the subtle light given off each one of the stars, seeing them all twinkling to each other, and reflecting on what had gone on during that day. Being up there and seeing all the stars that are above us in our galaxy always made me feel that the gift of life that we've all been given is way to precious to take for granted, and that letting the small things in life that stress us out sometimes are so insignificant in the whole big scheme of things.
If you could have one thing to take with you from camp what would it be?
If it didn't have to be a material 'something' that I could take with me, then I would choose to take and carry inside me all the time the feeling of complete happiness and belonging that I felt inside every single day this summer, because its a feeling that I would love to be a part of me for the rest of my life.
I really don't know what I would choose if it had to be a material something, because nothing could really beat the memories that I have brought back with me, because they will stay with me forever.
What difference did camp make in your life?
Being part of the Camp Flaming Arrow family has made a huge difference to my life, one that I can't quite believe.
I arrived at camp thinking that I would just blend into the background, have a bit of fun and then come home at the end of the summer, having met a few new people and maybe wanting to go back.
The reality of it was that I arrived at camp, met some people that would end up being like a family to me, doing things that I would have never dreamed of, being able to make differences to children's lives and being able to be a positive role model for those children to look up to, having the most amazing time of my life, and leaving at the end of the summer with a sense of direction for my life and a sense of purpose and self-belief that was never there before.
Are you planning on coming back next year?
I am definately coming back to camp next year!!! It's something that I look forward to everyday. I can't wait to be back over there and have another amazing summer!!!
What are you looking forward too?
I am looking forward to meeting up with everybody again that I met this year, and also all of the new members of the cfa family that will be part of it all next year :)
Getting taken on as part of the CFA staff is something that has made a huge difference to my life, and I only hope that one day I can make as bigger difference to other people's lives as what all of you guy's have to mine.