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Everything I Needed to Know about Life, I Learned at Winnataska

Aubrey Etheredge has grown up at camp...quite literally! I remember her first birthday party!  For two summers, she has worked at camp as a Comanche. She's a junior at Auburn, majoring in Elementary Education.  She'd like to share some of the valuable lessons that Camp Winnataska has taught her.

    As I sit in my university’s library, surrounded by 2.7 million books and with a computer that gives me the ability to find any information I could possibly need in the blink of an eye, I can’t help but believe that my summers at Camp Winnataska have taught me volumes more than any of these resources ever could. Every day, I carry the knowledge I have gained at Winnataska far beyond its gates, and I am thankful for the lessons camp has taught me that prove to be consistently applicable in my “real world” day-to-day life.

         I cannot even begin to count the skills I have acquired through the activities and opportunities that Winnataska offers its campers. Because of the pool, I know how to get a serious splash out of a cannon ball, and that a belly flop that makes your skin tingle will be well worth it when you come out of the water and hear everyone cheering. Outdoors is the reason I am able to pitch a tent just as quickly as I can make the perfect s’more, and why I always kiss the fish I catch before I throw them back. I have learned how to ride a horse and that horse food tastes like cereal, and I could walk through the Pony Grove blindfolded without stepping in a poop pile (though you won’t catch me trying). I have seen the ropes course help numerous campers overcome a fear of heights, and it is where we learn that untying a “Human Knot” takes true teamwork. In the gym, I figured out several tricks that keep me in a game of War Ball until the very end, and learned Country Night dances that I couldn’t forget if I tried. Crafts is the reason I know how to stitch gymp four different ways, and down the hill from the Craft Hut, I was taught how to steer a canoe, and that creek water works just as well as a shower with the right kind of soap. While these skills and bits of knowledge may seem trivial to some, those of us who have spent a week at Winnataska recognize their value.

         Unfortunately, I can’t be at camp year-round. However, the incredible friends I have made there are a piece of Winnataska whenever I need it. There is just no friend like a camp friend- these people have seen me at my best and my worst, and choose to love me anyway. Camp friends hold me accountable, make me laugh until I can’t breathe, and encourage me daily in my walk with Christ. Someday, they will be in my wedding and help me raise campers of my own. Many friends come and go through different seasons of life, but the common bond of Winnataska makes camp friendships the ones that last a lifetime.

         At camp, we are SILLY. We dance like no one’s watching, and sing songs that don’t even make sense at the top of our lungs, as if it’s totally normal. Yet somehow, amidst the wonderful craziness, God teaches us important lessons. He shows us His love in everything we do, and in turn, we learn to love others. At camp, God taught me patience and humility, and how to escape from my cell phone and other distractions so that I may be completely immersed in His presence. Through my experiences at camp, I learned how to make smart choices- from picking a snack in canteen to the decision to return for another summer on Staff. God shows us at camp that He is our best friend, and teaches us how to be a friend to others.

         The greatest thing about Winnataska is that it’s always there. While it is difficult to leave camp at summer’s end, we are welcomed back with open arms, year after year. Eventually, everyone reaches a point at which they are unable to return to Winnataska for the summer, but we soak up everything we can while we have the opportunity to be at this amazing place, and carry a piece of camp wherever we go. At Winnataska, we are valued, tested, and molded into the best version of ourselves- camp is a fleeting experience, but leaves a lasting impression.

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Reader Comments (1)

How, how, how!!

November 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterRean Campbell
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