I’ve often said that everything about camp transcends what happens in the ‘real world’ so much so, that we have an altered sense of time. Hours drag on, but days and weeks go by in what seems like instants. As a result, everything at FLC is so much more intensified. Friends become family, elders become heroes, and silly, instantaneous moments become things that you continually laugh about ten years after the fact.
Life at FLC is life under an emotional magnifying glass; so the bonds that are formed here are a million times stronger than ones formed on the “outside.”
I think that it’s because of this, that I can safely say that FLC has truly taught me how to love. Not simply in the obvious, cliché, generalized romantic way that love is usually defined as in movies and books and in our imaginations, but in far more important ways.
Starting on a somewhat superficial level, FLC has given me a weird sense of idol worship. For the past 14 years, I’ve seen some of the weirdest, loudest and possibly craziest people parade through this camp, and somehow, they’ve all managed to make us ‘young ins’ worship them, even call them FLC legends. These people, and I’m sure they know who they are, were, and are, so filled with the FLC spirit that some, including myself, felt unworthy to be in their presence. This reverence of seemingly insane men and women is much more than a fear of social hierarchy, a fear of not being “cool enough” to talk to them. This ‘intimidation,’ rather, is a form of respect for enthusiasm, and for those who embody the camp spirit. Who would’ve thought that Mary Hearst, in her purple cape, screaming BALI BALI, or Jen Burke, in her gravity defying pony tail saying wakey wakey everyday, would have inspirited me to not be afraid to be ridiculous in basically any setting? My unhealthy hero worship has taught me how to love life.
Flc also taught me how to be a good older sister to my brother and sister. Without camp, we would probably still be civil to one another, for the most part, but FLC has taught us the value in one another’s company, and how much we depend on one another for happiness. While at camp, we may not see each other as much, but I think it is here that Quinn, Liam and I are the closest. Simply by pure virtue of the fact that this is the place that we’ve all come to call home.
Not only does FLC help us bond as siblings, but, being a counselor here has taught me how to selflessly care for them without wanting or needing anything in return. When people ask what the most important thing in the world is to me, I will say Quinn and Liam, every time. And I owe FLC for giving me the opportunity to learn who my wonderful siblings are, and to increase my love for them.
While I am lucky enough to have my literal family here at FLC, as cheesy as it sounds, all of you, even those of you I don’t really know, are my family. To me, family are the people who love you unconditionally. Through the good, and the bad. Family are the people who ask you about your day, and genuinely want to hear your answer. Family are the people who love to spend time with you, and are themselves when they are around, and expect you to do the same. Family are the people who make you want to act like yourself. And that’s how I feel here, with all of you. It is here that I consider where I grew up. I consider so many of you brothers and sisters.
I want all of you to take a minute and think about how incredible it is, that a few people, being loving, accepting, free and compassionate can move someone, who was terrified of being herself, to feel comfortable enough in her own skin to stand here, in front of you all and talk about love? Crazy. That’s what this place and these people do to you. They make you, not want to be yourself, but love yourself, and show others that share that love. Susie, in her chapel speech, gave first sessioners a Latin phrase to live by, Carpe Diem; seize the day. I’m going to leave you with another. Si vis amari, ama. Which means, if you wish to be loved, love. Be that person that makes someone feel love’ be that person that other people come to feel like it’s ok to be themselves. That love will only be reciprocated and increased, and you too, will feel the love under the FLC magnifying glass.
It kills me to think that one day, I will have to stop coming back to FLC, thus ending my time of exposure to the raw, unbridled love that seems to be on the air here. But “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep,” meaning that my time here is not yet over, for those of you who this is your last summer, and I hope it’s not many of you, I want you to continue the FLC love in all aspects of your life. Take the magic of this exile from sanity, and put it to good use. Take the opportunity granted to you by fate and the great counselor, and use it to make you a better person in the real world.
There will never be another place like FLC in your life. You will never experience another summer quite like this one. Use it, and may the great counselor of all campers be with you now and always.
Do you want to experience the magic of an FLC Summer? Join us this summer – we still are accepting camper applications in some of our sessions. We look forward to meeting you this summer!!!