I have seen the Duomos and Alps of Italy, the fortresses and rainforests of Puerto Rico, and the cathedrals and snowy lowlands of Canada, but the most meaningful trip I have ever taken was only two states away and had nothing to do with the scenery.
Last summer I went to a camp in Colorado that was organized by Younglife, a Christian youth organization that primarily operates through schools. During the school year we have weekly club meetings at the local YMCA with music, crazy games, and a short sermon at the end. It is an extremely open-minded and accepting organization, and many kids who follow other religions or none at all attend.
The camp itself was right outside of Buena Vista at a place called Frontier Ranch. Every day was packed with both group and cabin activities. The group activities were done with everyone in the camp and included volleyball tournaments, hiking, obstacle courses, and other games. The cabin activities were done with only cabin members and included horseback riding, rappelling, the ropes course, dune buggies and more. During the “free time” in which no activities were planned, we could swim, play frisbee golf, four-square, sand volleyball, basketball, or go to the game room. Each night we would also have a club meeting like the ones we have during the school year.
After club each night we would have cabin time, and that is what made this trip so special. Our cabin consisted of the boys from my school. We were an ethnically and socially diverse group, and in the beginning of camp we were had very separate and distinct groups of friends without much communication between the groups. However, by the time we left all distinctions had disappeared and our groups had melded into one, thanks to cabin time.
Cabin time was an activity in which we were given a personal question and discussed it within our cabin. The answers were kept completely confidential and were not discussed outside of the cabin. As the questions grew more personal and we grew more emotional, the members of our cabin grew closer together too. We laughed together and we cried together, but mostly cried. The walls slowly crumbled and we all came to share a close relationship with one another that we will never lose. Seeing that diverse group of kids joining together as one was one of the greatest things I have ever seen. It was a milestone in my life that gave me renewed hope for humanity. If a diverse group of kids from a middle-class school can come to love one another, then what is stopping the rest of the world?
I am relatively well traveled for a sixteen year old. I have been to twenty-five states and six countries, some more than once. I had been to Colorado three times before I went there for camp last summer, and I had always been impressed by the breathtaking scenery, but what I experienced during that week last July was more amazing than all of the mountain ranges in Colorado.
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