Summer camp taught me a lot about life.

Growing up, I went to the countryside with my family regularly, but as an only child, it could get lonely. The added advantage of summer camp was that I lived with a group and learned about teamwork, rather than spending long hours by myself.

At 13, I was a summer camp late bloomer.I was wary of my first experience. I wasn't used to being monitored by people who weren't my family or my friends' families. I was deep into my tween years, rebellious and skeptical. I shared my room with another girl my age with the same attitude and a love for punk music.

There were things I didn't like about camp, like having to hang out with younger kids or making a terrarium. That being said, I couldn't help but be transported by the tales, songs, awe-inspiring nature and group spirit that camp offered. Despite my negative, hormonal attitude, I saw that summer camp could help me to grow up and to become a better person.The following year, I enrolled in another camp, a traveling cycling summer camp. Although I was relatively in shape, this camp was no picnic. We biked a minimum of 20 km every day and travelled through parts of New Brunswick and PEI.

It was strenuous, but it taught me many things, mainly that you're always stronger than you think, both physically and mentally. Many times I wanted the camp to end, but my counsellor taught me the value of taking life one day at a time. She taught me not to worry too much about the future and to live in the moment, a valuable lesson for a lifelong anxiety sufferer like me.

When I went back to school in the Fall of 2003, I felt changed. Calmer, more mature, with improved English skills and a better perspective on my life.Two years later, I embarked on a training to become a camp counsellor myself. I knew that I had it in me to share with others what I had learned.

I've always been independent, and summer camp taught me to keep that independence, to think for myself and to make my own decisions, while also being able to take the lead and to work as part of a group. Being at summer camp was a good preparation for living with roommates, attending university, and working at a job.

Summer camp also led me to have a healthier lifestyle and nurture an interest in sports and fitness. Being in nature every day and constantly exercising paved the way for my love of leading a healthly lifestyle to this day.

I learned that anything was possible, that I could get out of my comfort zone and deal with uncertainty. I don't think I would have moved to Vancouver, BC, at 17 or to London, UK, at 19 if I didn't have a sense of self and a knack for adventure instilled in me already. Being a summer camp counsellor taught me the value of hard work. It was not a job paid by the hour, but was rather a nonstop role where I needed to be prepared for anything, anytime. It taught me that caring about your job, and doing it well, doesn't only impact you, it impacts the lives of others.

Taking care of children also prepared me to (eventually) become a mother myself. Even if they were not my own, I took care of them as if they were, from a mosquito bite to nighttime anxiety. I'm convinced that I'll be a better parent because I took care of many children, each with their own sparkle and personality.

Even if my summer camp days are now behind me, I wouldn't be the same person today without it. learned many valuable lessons and skills, and I became a better version of myself.