Growth at Birch Trail

Hello from camp,

It’s been a great first day and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer. Each year on the first night of camp I walk around to all of the cabins with our Assistant Director Emma. We check in on all of the campers (new and returning) and see how their first night of camp is going. There are so many emotions in the cabins; campers are making new friendships, forging independence, and learning to verbalize their feelings as they work through homesickness and so much more. It’s an amazing thing to see.

For those of you who are at home and have sent your daughter to camp for the first time (or the fourth time) it takes a lot of strength and courage to let your child go to camp for four or eight weeks and we appreciate the trust you have shown us.

I received an incredible letter today from one of our campers who is in her gap year of BT (the year in between being the oldest camper and being a counselor). I thought her letter was a great illustration of the growth and joy that comes from summers spent at Birch Trail. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Dear Gabe,

Today is Fathers Day.

Fathers Day has always been two things to me. First, it is the day that I celebrate my wonderful father, Gene. Second, it has always been the last day that I get to spend with my family before I wake up early to get on a Lamers bus for eight beautiful hours on my way to Camp Birch Trail. For the past five years, the night of Fathers day has always been so full of excitement and joy that I can’t truthfully say I have ever slept more than an hour. And this one certainly isn’t falling short, thus why I am up at 1:00 am writing this.

Both you and I and all of my counselors/friends know that I am not your most emotional camper. I have been known to never cry at a TM council fire (including my own) and to no one’s surprise I don’t usually shed a tear on the last day of camp either. But this was never because I was unhappy. I loved camp more than anyone, but I was always somehow able to cope with the fact that my summers were coming to a close because I always knew that exactly a year from then, I would be back in the same spot in the council fire ring (at the perfect angle behind that one big tree where the sunset never blinded me). Somehow, I was even able to end my absolutely perfect TM summer without completely losing my mind in sadness. I have carried on throughout the school year, kept in touch with all of my amazing friends and counselors, and thought about Birch Trail just as much as I would have any other summer.

But right now is Fathers Day night, 2019. And tomorrow, a few hundred extremely lucky kids are going to bus, fly, and drive out to my favorite place in the world, and I am still awake. Just as I have been for the last five summers. Even though I won’t be getting on that bus tomorrow, I still lie in my room completely restless thinking about how tremendously grateful I am for everything that Birch Trail has given me.

I will never be able to thank you enough for the experiences I had and the lessons I learned under your care. I am well aware that the girl who came to camp as an upper maple had no idea what was in store for her, and never would’ve dreamed that she could become the person she is today. Birch Trail gave me confidence like no one else could. I was able to let completely loose for 9 sessions and without a care in the world. I was my best self at camp. I was happiest at camp. And after five summers, the thing that I am most proud to take away from Camp Birch Trail is that I can harness that happiest, camp Bailey and turn her into my everyday self.

While I know that my time as a camper is done, I think I will finally be able to fall asleep on Fathers day night. This year, I feel closure. I am positive that plenty of other girls will get to have the amazing experiences that I had, and that Birch Trail will help plenty of other young girls grow into themselves the same way that Birch Trail helped me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you Gabe, and all of the incredible staff at Camp Birch Trail, for helping me be Bailey.

2 thoughts on “Growth at Birch Trail”

  1. Hi Emma – <3 this, I am one of the CareBear's from family camp 🙂 . Tell B & D we love them very much and have mucho fun! Thanks for all that you and your team do for our kids. xoxo, J & L

  2. Beautiful and articulate letter. Thanks so much for sharing…i am so grateful for the spectacular experience(s) you are creating for my daughter.

    Best, Patti Reiss

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