Friendship, courage, adventure, leadership. These are just a few of the things I learned and experienced when I entered the magical world of summer camp. If you’re like me and you were blessed with the opportunity to attend summer camp, then you understand how it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a kid. My usual camp experience always started out with being assigned a counselor and meeting my fellow campers. The first time I had to do this was definitely the most difficult seeing as I was attached to my older brother’s hip and had to watch him go off with his own group. Fortunately for me, I would soon find out that summer, that you don’t have to share the same blood or complexion in order to be brothers. One of the activities they used in order to bring us closer was called the low ropes course. It seemed very simple; it consisted of a rope that was tied around four trees. The objective was to get the whole group onto the rope at the same time. So we began arguing about who would stand near the tree, complaining about how stupid we thought the activity was, and getting frustrated with our failure. The counselors finally broke their silence and told us that only by working together as a team could we accomplish this task. So we all decided to drop our egos and give this teamwork thing a shot and just as they said we achieved our goal and grew closer in the process. Next it was on to the high ropes course. The high ropes course as the name suggest is a course consisting of a series of ropes, cables, and ladders. This time I wouldn’t have my team there with me at least not in the physical sense. You start off climbing up a ladder made of planks like the one you see for tree houses. Until you reach the starting point which was about 50 feet in the air. So there I was, my life flashing before my eyes. After a few minutes passed my buddy’s began to cheer for me, "you got it Tim", "you can do it man", but there cheers were falling on deaf ears. Then the darndest thing happened, a group of female campers showed up to do the course and my fears just magically disappeared. I ran through that course like a seasoned veteran. The final team building exercise was the trust fall. To paint the picture for you we had to fall backwards off of what seemed like a 10 foot high platform that was probably more like 6 feet, hoping that your fellow campers wouldn’t drop you. While I was standing up there I remember all the negative thoughts going through my head. How the kids at school use to make fun of me, how I felt that I never really belonged anywhere, and how lonely I always felt back home. Then the sound of my buddies encouraging me pushed out all those thoughts and made me feel as though being me was ok. I remember thinking that there may be some bad people out there but there are good ones also and I decided to take that leap of faith towards friendship. The following year when I returned to camp all of my previous anxieties were gone and I was glad to once again see all my friends. The only change this time was that my counselors from the previous year were with another group so I got stuck with some new guys. I was not happy at all about that. I gave these guys a very hard time because I was still loyal to my first counselors, but that was all about to change. It was day three and we were heading to the lake for a little canoeing, and because I couldn’t swim I had to have a counselor with me. Everything was going fine until we tried to make a sharp turn around a corner and somehow our canoe flipped over. I was freaking out because I was an frequent watcher of the discovery channel and I knew alligators lived in lakes. Luckily, there were no alligators in this lake.lol This camp counselor that I had been giving such a hard time to saved my life and became my hero in the process. He was the true definition of courage and taught me to keep an open mind and give everyone a chance. The next camp “adventure” (you see what I’m doing here) involved one of my favorite camp activities, horseback riding. The camp paid for us to be sent to Tuscan Arizona to learn all about horseback riding. I may not have been good at a lot of things but I was a natural at riding horses. In addition to riding horses we also spent the night out in the desert where you could see every star as clear as day. I learned a lot about astronomy and about how to survive out the desert. We also learned how to use a horse to get cattle into their pins. It was one of the funnest experiences of my life. The last camp experience I would like to share is my favorite. I was 15 years old and by this time a camp veteran. Summer camp had helped me develop my social skills so I now had lots of friends back home and I was not as excited as usual to leave them behind, but I made the decision to go anyway. Once there I fell into the usual routine of doing activities, only this time I possessed something new, “experience”. When we got to the low ropes course and I saw things going how they did when I was a kid. I stopped everyone and said "no let's slow down, take our time, and work together as a team" and with that we accomplished our goal. When it came to doing the high ropes and trust fall I tried to be the loudest person cheering on my buddies. I also made it a mission to help some of the younger kids learn how to swim. At the end of every summer camp one male and one female camper who exemplifies what it means to be a true camper by displaying kindness, enthusiasm, and of course “leadership” receives the coveted Apollo award. The Apollo award is a small polished paddle with the camp logo on it, you also get your name engraved on the "BIG" camp paddle. You’ll never guess who got it that year, ME!!! It was the first time in my life that I felt that I was special. Summer camp like all things in life is what you make it. It played a major part in developing me into the man I am today. By going to summer camp I learned to welcome friendship, display courage, go on adventures, and to not be afraid to lead. The biggest thing that it taught me was that you’ll never know all the things that life has to offer unless you get out there and live it. I’ll leave you all with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt “the purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.