Monday, July 15, 2013

Guest Post: My Girl Scout Camp Experience - Camp Agnes Arnold to Tulane

We have a summer intern in our MarComm department at GSSJC - Michelle Sheena is learning all about the ins and outs of marketing with us as she decides whether to pursue it as her college major, and one of her assignments is to write for our blog. Since she grew up as a Girl Scout in our council and attended all three of our resident camps over the years, we invited Michelle to share her experiences with you! In her first post on her camp experience at Camp Agnes Arnold, she shares why she wanted to go to camp, how she overcame homesickness and lessons learned at camp that still apply to her life today.

By Michelle Sheena
Former Girl Scout, MarComm intern

From the time I first heard about Girl Scout camp I was dying to go. It seemed like my friends had all been to resident camp already, and every summer they came back to school with crazy stories about everything from hiking to archery. I could not wait until the summer when I got to leave home for a week and live with other girls my age.

When I was 12 I finally went to away camp. I chose Camp Agnes Arnold and went with one of my best friends, Kathryn, for the Camp Like a Girl session. Our families drove up to camp together, checked in together, said goodbye together. Now our young selves were on our own. Kathryn and I were almost inseparable, but we left enough room for us to both make other friendships. However, I felt like Kathryn was adjusting to our home away from home faster than I was; she had been to camp before. I felt somewhat alienated, which led to homesickness – a new feeling. This wasn't what camp was supposed to be like.

As the days went by I grew more and more comfortable being away from home. I bonded with so many other girls just like me and eventually forgot why I felt so awkward in the first place. We distracted ourselves by making friendship bracelets, tie-dye shirts and even oatmeal face masks. We learned how to swim while playing exciting games and finally got the chance to take the canoes out.

By the time Friday rolled around I never wanted to leave. As I repacked my bag, I saw more than just a hat or a shirt or a water bottle. I saw memories: the hat I wore when I made Kathryn a bracelet and she made me one back; the shirt I accidentally got oatmeal on; the water bottle I constantly refilled per the request of the staff. Girl Scout camp helped me recognize my independence at a young age. I had an incredible time while learning how to grow up slowly, gaining confidence along with a very valuable set of skills.

I continued my involvement with Girl Scouts because I saw how it benefited me every day. Although I never returned to Camp Arnold for resident camp, I did go back for various Girl Scout retreats, and my Girl Scout troop even started a winter break tradition there. I also went to Camp Misty Meadows once and Camp Casa Mare on multiple occasions.

The most direct impact of Girl Scout camp on my life now is the conversion of the independence I found there to the independence I now have in college at Tulane. Although packing enough clothing for one week and driving an hour away is hugely different from packing my entire room and moving out of the house, each circumstance required me to lessen my reliance on my parents. I had to assess all of my issues at camp on my own, or find assistance myself, and I have to do the same while at college.

Look for more entries from Michelle in the coming weeks on other experiences at Camp Agnes Arnold and Camp Casa Mare!