The official student news site of Westview High School

The Nexus

The official student news site of Westview High School

The Nexus

The official student news site of Westview High School

The Nexus

Battikha constructs, programs drone for pollution detection
Battikha constructs, programs drone for pollution detection
Leanne Fan, Staff Writer • June 5, 2024

When Alex Battikha (11) walked along the San Diego shores with his dad last June, he noticed trash everywhere. What further concerned him was...

Summer camp taught me lifelong skills

Summer+camp+taught+me+lifelong+skills

My parents never snuck vegetables into my brownies when I was a kid. I thought they would never trick me like that. But, as it turns out, they tricked me in a different way: they sent me off to summer camp, led me to believe that I was just making a bunch of amazing memories, when really, I was learning. 

For the past nine summers, I have been attending the same summer camp nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains called Camp Mountain Chai. My past nine summers have been filled with hammocks, archery, color wars, roasting marshmallows, mud-covered shoes, early-morning canoeing on the lake, and singing campfire songs under star-filled night skies. But the hidden vegetable in what seemed like an endless platter of brownies was the invaluable skills I learned along the way. 

I first went to camp in the summer of 2015 as a rising third-grader. I was 7. When my parents dropped me off at the bus stop I knew no one, but two weeks later, when I walked off the bus, I had 14 new friends to whom I gave a goodbye hug. I got on the bus with two duffel bags packed to the brim with clothes, bed sheets, stationery to write home, Madlibs, and a photo of my dog. Everything I brought with me, I also brought back (except a few mismatched socks). However, I also brought home something that I could never have packed in my duffel bag: new life skills. I learned how to put a fitted sheet on a bed, how to make friends in a new environment, how to paddle a canoe, how to shoot a bow and arrow, and how to be independent and advocate for myself.

I recognize that some of these skills, like shooting a bow and arrow, won’t be super useful as I embark on the adventure that will come after graduating high school. However, I have recently realized that some skills I learned at summer camp have put me ahead of my peers when it comes to moving across the country and staying in a dorm room next year. Knowing how to live in a shared space with, essentially, strangers is something that not everyone is familiar with before they move in with their freshman roommate. It feels good to know that, through nine years of different cabinmates at summer camp, I have learned how to exist in a small space with all different kinds of people: throw-your-clothes-on-the-floor kinds of people, neat freaks, space hogs, and everything in between. 

Another skill I have learned is the ability to sit and do seemingly nothing without getting bored. Up at 7,000 feet in the San Bernardino National Forest, cell service is hard to come by, but natural beauty is everywhere. Without electronics, I spent my free time chatting, making friendship bracelets, or laying in silence staring up at the stars. I learned that what some call entertainment can be just a distraction from reality. When those distractions are put away for a few weeks, it becomes easier to simply exist: listening to the twittering of birds and the wind as it rushes through the pine needles, smelling the sweet vanilla scent of forest trees leaking with sap, feeling the gentle warmth of the 7,000-foot-closer sun on my back, and gazing deep within the thick of the trees to spot a galloping doe. When I am at summer camp — and for a few weeks after I arrive back home, before I get caught up in our fast-paced, distraction-filled world again — I feel as though I notice more of the details of the world around me and feel more at peace with my surroundings. That “nothing” I’m doing is actually a lot — it is listening, and smelling, and feeling. 

I have learned a lot in those few weeks each year I attended summer camp, and these are skills that I believe everyone should learn. While I am now too old to continue being a camper, I am passing on what I’ve learned to others. This year, I will close out a decade of summer camp by being a counselor for kids who are the same age I was that first summer. Whether it’s teaching them how to make a friendship bracelet, put a fitted sheet on a bed, resolve a conflict, or roast a marshmallow to golden perfection, it’s really cool to know that these could be skills that they will one day be looking back at, realizing that a few vegetables were hidden in their summer camp experiences. 

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About the Contributor
Jillian Sinder
Jillian Sinder, Editor-in-Chief
Jillian Sinder (12) is in her third year as a part of the Nexus. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry, spending time with friends, and listening to music. Her favorite classes in school are Spanish and, of course, Journalism II.

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