The Last Day of Summer

Tears: they filled my eyes. I knew this would happen. But even so, as a young seventh grader, it’s never easy. Everyone around me hugged as goodbyes were said. This ritual happened each August, and it happened on the last day of sleep-away camp.

As any fellow camper can attest, these were no ordinary eight weeks. Tight friendships form, interests develop. A counselor once told me that one full day at camp with a friend, from good morning to good night, is the equivalent of two weeks: wake up, shower, clean the bunk, role call, breakfast, arts & crafts, soccer, etc. You get the idea, and that’s only before lunch. For the first time in most of our twelve-year-old lives, we were able to be independent people. We were able to live outside our parents’ homes and try to be someone else — or even just figure out whoever we really were.

What I’m about to say is something I have never ever shared with anyone because well…I didn’t want to get made fun of, BUT…it scared the hell out of me. The big blob: I stared at it from afar.

“The Blob” — that kid on the dock with his hands up is like “YesSS”

I don’t blame my sixth grade self. Look at that thing. No way that guy survived. Heck, one of my friends actually broke his leg. So, one day my counselor pushes me to go. My knees are literally shaking. All my friends are watching and super excited to see me launched. They don’t know I’m scared. I shuffle to the edge — I’m definitely breaking my leg. Damnit, why’d I come out here? My friend jumps up — in the air — boom: I’m launched. Splash: I’m plunged into the water. I come up grasping for air. I’m fine? I’m fine!! With my friends cheering me on, I had the biggest smile on my face. Maybe the blob isn’t so bad.

Camp might also be a place for a first kiss.

Clear starry night, walking back to the bunks from the dance at the tennis courts, nice tucked away space…behind the soda machines, what more could a rising seventh grader ask for?

Bunk hopping: a bunch of middle school’ers sneaking out in the middle of the night to meet up with other campers on the soccer field…to hang out…against the rules…any moment potentially getting caught…and feeling cool as hell. For the first time in our lives, we created a time and space for no rules, no adults. It was ours.

What a summer! Another eight weeks past and here I stood again on the last day. I looked around and saw the usual sight of goodbyes. But this time it felt different for me. I’ve experienced many last days, but a newfound perspective changed how I felt. This time when I looked back on how I took advantage of all the good times and appreciated all the memories with my friends, I was happy. Happy that I actualized the summer’s potential. And from that, my eyes filled with tears. Last days have never been the same since.