Amazing Kids! Magazine

Camp Is Not Home Away from Home

By Rachel Bohl, grade 8, Ohio


The damp air filled my lungs. My warm bed had consumed me, but my alarm was blaring. It was 7:00 a.m. I climbed out of bed and stumbled to turn it off. I threw on some clothes and grabbed my Sperrys. I went downstairs shivering and into the kitchen to find a steaming warm plate of French toast waiting for me. My stomach growled as I deeply inhaled the smell of cinnamon. As I cut into my last breakfast at home, I thought about all the family dinners I would miss at camp. All of the week of swim practice. The smell of chlorine lingering in my swim bag. All these things about my house I wasn’t ready to let go of.

“Rachel, we have to hurry, or we will be late for the drop-off,” declared my dad as he rustled my hair. We hopped into the car and drove off, leaving an empty spot in the fog. When we got there, I reluctantly hopped out of the car to hug my parents, not wanting to let go. I was nervous for my very first time away from my family.

Will this also be other kids’ first time at camp? Will I get homesick? Is camp scary? Is the food good? Are the showers gross?

As these questions swirled inside of me, I tried to take everything in: the dewy grass, the fog, and the chirps of parents saying good-bye to their kids. I wondered, Is this how it will be when I go to college? Will I be this scared and unready? Will the feelings of excitement and adventure be the same? I was so confused but ready to go.

My friend waved me over for a group photo. We all smiled and yelled, “Camp Kern 2016.”

Mom told me we should start getting on the bus, so we gave our suitcases over to our teacher as she loaded them into the bus. When we heard our names called to go on to the bus, we headed straight to the back. When our teacher told us we would be there in a few minutes, I wiped the fog off the window, searching for the camp. As we finally spotted it in the foggy distance, our eyes opened wide with excitement and curiosity. As we drove there, I wondered what it would be like. Maybe nice cabins with a cute little bathroom in them, or maybe they would make us sleep in tents. I was curious but unsure. As I started talking to my friend, we imagined what camp would be like. When we got there, they directed us to go to the basketball courts. We sat on the basketball courts waiting for our cabin assignment. When we got our cabin assignment, we raced down the pebbly track into cabin 13, lugging our heavy bags and suitcases behind us. My bunkmate and I argued over who should get the top bunk. We settled it with Rock, Paper, Scissors. I picked scissors; I thought, She’ll never pick that. I lost and settled into the lower bunk. As I lay in the bunk, I realized this will be my home for the next few days. A few days had gone by, and I hadn’t gotten used to camp life yet. We had gone hiking and rock climbing. We made candles and acted like pioneers. Time had gone by so fast. We finally had some cabin time. As we relaxed in our cabin with some well-needed time off, my bunkmate and I started reading a book on my bed.

“Do you miss home?” I asked.

“Not really. I kind of like it here without my sisters,” she replied.

“I miss my loft bed. I liked sleeping up high,” I said.

“You can have the top bunk. It really isn’t that great. Plus, only on the bottom bunk you can make a cave,” she offered.

“Thanks, but it is the last night, and it really isn’t worth switching beds,” I said.

Maybe I should have taken her offer? I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. I got to go home and see my mom. I couldn’t wait to curl up on our couch and watch a movie or play a board game with my sisters.

My counselor then told everyone, “Start getting ready for dinner and campfire.”

We started putting our shoes on and grabbed our cameras. We walked out of our cabin just as the dinner bell rang. We walked towards the main road as the gravel crunched beneath our shoes. As we rounded the last corner, I saw my friend heading into the main building and ran up to meet her. My friend and I walked to our table and sat down. We talked until everyone came in. I was glad I didn’t have dinner duty because after dinner we headed to the campfire. As we walked through the woods, you could hear the echo of sticks breaking and footsteps. The trees waved in the breeze. I looked around as the trail started getting bigger and the trees became farther away. I shivered, wishing I had a jacket or I was at my warm house. The sun started to disappear behind the trees just as we got to the campfire. We rushed to the logs trying to get good seats. As we started to sing, all of our voices came together as one.

All of us sang, “Hmmm, / And as the years go by, / Hmmm, / I’ll think of you and sigh. / Hmmm, / This is good night, / And not goodbye. / Hmmm, / I want to linger. / Hmmm / A little longer. / Hmmm / A little longer, / Here with you.”

As we walked back to camp through the dark woods together, I thought of my friends and family and realized that time was going by so fast; and one day in my near future, I might not see this person, or I won’t be friends with this person anymore. At that moment all I wanted was my mom. As we hiked back to camp, I started crying.

“Rachel, what’s wrong?” Sadie asked.

I contemplated what to tell her. Was I okay? Would she think I acted babyish? Then I remembered that yesterday Sadie felt homesick, so I told her.

“I just miss my mom,” I said in between sobs, “and the rest of my family.”

“It’s okay. Let’s go find Carson,” Sadie suggested.

By the time we got back, my counselor and one of my friends took me to the main office to call my mom. It was just a simple case of homesickness, but in that moment, I realized just how important my family was in my life. As I heard my mom’s eloquent voice over the phone persuading me to stay at camp, all the homesickness and sadness were washed away and replaced with a peaceful feeling. As we walked back to the cabin, I knew I would never forget this experience and how important my family is to me.