I’ve been to a lot of places and done a lot of things, but my most memorable travel experience would have to be the week I lived in a dorm at Liberty University for my first summer camp the American Legion of Boys State. It’s a camp that is set up every year in states across America where high school juniors (girls state for girls) are selected from there school to go and be representatives and learn about a lot of their state’s and America’s political structure and “Americanism.”
When my guidance counselor at school (Norview High) told me about Boys State she told me the time and place of pickup and that every year schools in each state of America select about two to four students from their schools to participate in this statewide camp. And all I knew was that it was a summer camp and I wouldn’t have to pay for anything at all really, which meant free food so of course that was good enough news to me. But when I accepted the invitation to attend and represent my school I had really no idea what to expect of this. I’ve never been to a summer camp or away from home alone for a week, nor have I heard anyone talk about Boys State prior to this.
On my bus ride there, everyone was pretty quiet except for a few that already knew each other and just sleeping or texting the whole 5 hours. When all of us first arrived at Liberty University we were kind of timid and just keeping to ourselves. But it didn’t take long for us to open up and start having fun with each other. Never have I met such awesome people, young or old. We got to meet Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, the general attorney, two senators and delegates of Virginia, and even got to ask them a few questions about their goals and future plans for Virginia. We learned some marching provisions and terms like cadence and the importance of unity. We got a hands on experience on how democracy works and is by voting for each to take leadership positions like governor, sheriff, mayor, supreme judge, and more (of course they were pretend but still…). All the counselors, even though they volunteered, had such enthusiasm, seriousness, and respect for us, each other and their tasks.
Not only did I get a completely free chance to live and eat at one of my dream colleges for a week, but thanks to this camp I have walked away with more confidence and consideration for others and myself, formed a brotherhood that will last forever, and a newfound respect not only for peers and elders, but for my country as well. I learned so much about, not only my country and peers, but myself too. I found out that I’m a pretty good volleyball player and still got it in soccer, and that duck sauce and french fries are really good together.
I went into this camp not knowing what to expect or do, and a little skeptical, but came out transformed and refreshed. No, I didn’t go on any roller coasters, go rafting in the Colorado River, or go sightseeing in a foreign or exotic country. I stayed right in my country…my home and wouldn’t trade the memories and experience I have from camp for any of those things. God blessed America.
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