It is difficult for me to begin to explain just another leadership camp, because it is so much more than that. The Michigan Association of Student Councils and Honor Societies has completely molded my life and I owe all the credit in the world to them in making me the woman I am today. It all starts at summer camp. An environment that is indescribably inclusive, energetic, empowering & for lack of a word better than this, magical.
Imagine this as a high school student…Imagine driving to a college campus with people dressed in different colored tutus and glitter on their faces with signs directing you to your destination. Imagine approaching check-in emerging yourself into a room for a strangers. Music is playing. People are dancing. You continue seeing these colorfully-dressed, excited individuals everywhere you turn. They are answering questions and working like elves to get everyone checked in. But they are so happy while doing it. People have megaphones. They are chanting strange songs. You make it to the check-in table and you are assigned a color and a dorm room. The person at the end of the table has the same color as you so you stand next to them and get your picture taken with them after learning their name for the first time. You are moving your stuff into the dorm room and quickly you are motioned to meet at a chapel. You enter the chapel and you see each an every one of those colorfully-dressed individuals lined up on the stage at the front of the room. There are more chants going on. You find yourself chanting along with everyone. You find yourself realizing that everyone else just learned the words too. You are dismissed by your color and you follow one of the colorful elves. While walking back to your council room for the first time, you get to know a few people’s names. And suddenly, you are a camper. That night, you conduct and perform a full on skit with your council in front of your whole level. You find yourself remembering everyone’s names at the end of the day. You somehow ended up decked out in the color you were assigned to with bandanas and glitter and t-shirts. You lay down at night and from then on, you have changed. You have entered this whole new world with no intentions of going back to the old one. You proceed through the week by pushing yourself in ways you didn’t know you could be pushed before. You have exceeded your own expectations and you can no longer shrink yourself back into the bubble you were in before because you are bigger now. Wiser now. Stronger now. That person with the same color as you at the end of the table became your long-distance best friend and pen pal and the two of you get to hang out on the weekends. You bring back all of the new ideas, perspectives and concepts you learned at camp to your school at home. They are impressed by your ability to adapt to situations and be vulnerable in your leadership skills. You make a difference in your community for the whole year. And every day you look forward to returning to that magical place to do it all again. Once you have imagined this, you can now get a slight grasp of what it is like being a camper at MASC/MAHS summer leadership camp.
As for myself, I attended camp for 2 years in high school. I had no idea that I was able to do half of the things I was capable of until I was in these shoes. Scared and nervous that I wouldn’t be with my friends from high school. Anxious that I would be away from home for the first time for so long. But then 2 years passed and I was a completely different person. I had taken on leadership roles in my high school’s student body that impacted the students in ways I never knew were possible. I was able to innovate concepts and ideas to my leadership class, raise thousands of dollars for charities that I was extremely passionate about, and overall feel confident in myself and able to love myself unconditionally because of the person that I was constantly growing into.
Today I write to you as one of the “elves.” I never imagined in a million years on my first day of camp that I would be the one dressed up in a tutu with a mega phone in my hand chanting in front of thousands of high school students alongside of my college staff. But here I am.
This past year at camp I was so incredibly honored to be the junior councilor of the Yellow Torches in the Level 1 council. Although it may seems like I am talking gibberish, what this means is that I was able to impact the lives of 14 young high school students who impacted me in more ways than not. From being able to touch on categories like public speaking, confidence, organization and more, we were also able to dive into issues like social classes, race and gender privileges, and the things we can do to make these issues go away.
Being a junior councilor for this council meant so much more to me than I could have ever planned. These campers pushed themselves far beyond my expectations and made me feel so proud to have been a part of their experience. I learned so much from a group of brand new campers with little to no exposure of camp whatsoever. They picked up everything that was thrown at them and ran with it. Seeing these campers utilize what they learned with me and the community of camp back to their hometowns and in the things that they are passionate about is what makes this organization stand out to me the most. Anyone can go to just another leadership conference, training or camp. But it is what you are going to do when you leave that event that is what is going to make or break your experiences.
Michigan Association of Student Councils and Honor Societies is a whirlwind of emotions, growth and impact. Every year I have been to camp has been absolutely incredible and it is because every time I learn something different. Even being on the other side of it all and facilitating the activities that I have already gone through, there is always something new to learn from and to grow from. Nothing in this world could replace this organization in my heart and I never want it too. I can’t even begin to fathom the fact that this summer will be my 5th and final year at MASC/MAHS camp, but I will always accredit every part of it to the leader and the woman I am today.