Ethan Kripke, a 2nd generation Towanda-er, completed his Club year, is currently in 10th grade and will be back in the future as a counselor! This past July, Ethan wrote the following reflection as his sermon to the rest of camp.
Lots of camper sermons start out with something along the lines of: the first time I stepped off the bus onto Camp Towanda, I was scared. It was a strange new place, filled with people I didn’t know yet, and I was without my family for the first time. My experience, however, was a little different. I had been raised on stories of camp for my whole life. Thanks to encouragement from my father, my brother, and my sister, I was more than ready to hop on the bus and go. I was excited for the weeks to come, with activities and sports, talent shows, trip days, Olympics, and of course, making new friends.
So, for me, the last time I stepped off the bus onto Camp Towanda, I was scared. It was my final year as a camper, and I knew that after the summer, I might not see some of my friends for a very long time. And though this fear has been plaguing me from the beginning of this summer, I have since come to realize that it has also helped me to appreciate the summer even more. It motivates me to have as much fun as possible while I still can, and to be the best I can be to the people who have been a huge part of my life for seven whole years.
In these years, here at Camp Towanda, I have learned many lessons that I have used and will continue to use throughout my life. In this respect, camp is just as important as traditional schooling. At camp, you learn how to take care of yourself and gain personal independence, while also learning and appreciating the value of trust and teamwork. Camp is a place where you understand that friendship is one of the strongest bonds on Earth, and can overcome any challenge. These types of lessons are never taught at school, yet are seamlessly integrated into the daily life of Towanda, helping you learn from your experiences, whether they are mistakes or successes. That’s the beauty of camp: no matter the activity, you’re having fun while also learning, even if you don’t realize it at the time.
One of the most important lessons I have learned throughout my time at camp is to live in the moment. While it would be easy to spend my days reliving the past or only worrying about what is to come, I would find that my summers become less enjoyable, and some important experiences would pass me by. In the end, the advice that I have to give to the younger campers (of which I was one) is to cherish the “now”—not the “then”, or the ‘will be’, and to fully appreciate things as they happen, because before you know it, they will only be fond memories.