It started out being a simple trip to CLI, a Christian Leadership Institute camp, along with my two friends from the Core Team at my parish this past July 28th 2009. They were more excited than I was. We were on our way to Santa Barbara all the way from Redlands, here in California. While the others were anxious to get there I was just listening to music and looking outside my window to the road and the mountains. We made several stops. Our youth leader was the one taking us and thanks to him we got there an hour late.
When we got there all the other teens were already there playing games and getting to know each other. We were put on spot for getting so late. I guess being punctual is a big deal if you’re a leader. We were going to stay in this camp for a whole week, well from Sunday afternoon all the way to Friday afternoon, which made it five days. When we first got there, and for the first days we were uncomfortable. None of us wanted to get out of our comfort zones. But towards the third day, after playing so many activities with the others we all became friends. We became a family.
Every morning we had a congregation where all the teens got together and talked about what happened during the night. After words we went to eat breakfast and then our morning prayer. Once done with all that we started class and in between breaks we would hang out. Whenever people would be sitting by themselves, I would go and talk to them. I would ask if anything was wrong or if they wanted to hang out for the time we were given for break. During breakfast, lunch, or dinner if someone was left by themselves we would fix the tables so that we were all united eating together and no one was left alone. Everyone was nice to each other. No one talked bad about anyone. That’s what made it so great. Like a little piece of heaven.
Then Thursday came around. It was in the afternoon and we had a “town hall meeting.” This was when we all got together and we talked about the affirmations and concerns of the day. I had gone up days before, but that day was too gloomy and I decided not to go up. There were no concerns but affirmation that day. I listen to everyone that went up, talking about how great we all had been to each other. Tears started running down my face. Every single memory of that week came to my mind. All the things I had learned, but also all the friends I had made.
I was just quiet. But my eyes were overflowing with tears. For as much as I tried I couldn’t get myself to stop. Once the meeting was done everyone came to hug me and I surrendered. I cried so much I could feel my face red of embarrassment. Everyone surrounded me to give me a hug and I couldn’t do anything but to receive all the hugs. I was so upset because the next day we would all leave back to our hometown. Our piece of heaven was going to be tarred apart, but one thing I learned was that we would be there for each other, and from that Friday we left back home until today we all still keep in contact with each other and still try to make our community a better place in our parish.
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