As I sit here and try to put words onto paper about my camp journey there are a few questions I ask myself. What’s the best way to make others understand what Camp Chen-A-Wanda means to me? Where do I start? What do I talk about? What makes me come back year after year? What is camp like?
Even though, through my eyes, I am sure many will be able to relate to the story I am about to tell, in some way. I think this is why camp is a very special place because we can all relate, even though we all come from every little corner on this earth. We share one thing, one bond that cannot be broken or taken from us. This is what is so special about this place. Only the experiences can make one understand, words can only draw a picture but cannot fill it in with color that is up to you. So here is my best attempt at drawing a picture…
Name: Eddie Los
Position: Baseball Director
Years at Camp: Entering 4th
Where do I start?
My journey to camp started in January 2015, I recently turned 24 and was about to attend my fourth university in six years. I was lost, struggling to find my identity. Little did I know, I was about to find exactly what I was looking for. As I was looking for a job, I stumbled across a summer camp position. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply since I was going to school to become a teacher. I sat down and spent nearly three hours filling out the application. After I sent in the application, I waited nearly a week without hearing anything and decided to email the camp directly:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Grabow,
My name is Eddie Los and I have just applied for a position at Camp Chen-A-Wanda. I just wanted to email you both and say that I am really looking forward for an opportunity to be a part of the camp this summer. I feel like with an opportunity I could succeed very well this summer under your staff.
Look forward to hearing from you both.
This email started a domino effect for the coming week that led to me signing a contract to become a Baseball Specialist. While in talks, I asked If there was anything I could do to help at camp and I was told about pre-camp. Which leads me to my next question.
What do I talk about?
My very first experience at camp was with a few men that helped acclimate myself to camp. They welcomed me with open arms, which isn’t anything out of the ordinary at camp, it’s a way of life. Once you make that right down camp road, drive under the arch, you become part of a unique family. My first summer started with a small group and quickly expanded to nearly 800 campers and staff members. The next few weeks were quiet for me. I am normally a shy and reserved person. I don’t normally go out of my comfort zone at all. Until I met someone by the name of Melvin, I was sitting in the lodge eating and he sat down across from me and said, “Just the man I am looking for.” He had asked if I’d like to participate in the staff talent show. After talking, I had agreed that if I wanted to color my picture in, I would have to step out of my comfort zone a little. That was just the beginning of my first summer at camp. After that, I was asked to be a Captain of Olympics and shortly following, Captain of Color War. The summer ended with an honor that I am still proud of, being named Counselor of the Year. If I can give anyone words of advice, it’s don’t be afraid to try new things and face your fears while at camp. If I didn’t do those things and step out of my comfort zone, I don’t think I would have been able to understand the meaning of what my first-year entailed. We hold the ability to make camp amazing. We get out, what we put in. Which brings me to my next question…
What brings me back year after year?
It’s hard to explain, camp allows me to step out of my comfort zone. I may have been part of probably one of the worst lip sync experience ever in camp history and when I say, “I may have,” I was. I stood up on stage and didn’t know what I was doing. I kept saying, “Watermelon, cantaloupe,” but not even those two words could save me. I knew that this would be talked about, but I also knew that it wouldn’t bother me. You do things at camp for the kids. Maybe I didn’t nail the performance (or come anywhere close) but maybe I was able to give a camper confidence to get up on stage and perform. To me camp is not about myself, it’s about the campers and having a good laugh and I gave camp enough reason to laugh for the next few days with that performance. This is why I come back year after year, to share and make memories with the camp Chen-A-Wanda family and build relationships with everyone that steps foot on that spot on the map in Thompson, PA.
What does camp mean to me?
Camp is so much more than just a summer job. Not once have I talked about my passion and love for the game of baseball, which is my job at camp because that is just a fraction of what camp means to me. Not everyone can relate to the camp experience if I talk baseball but they can relate if I talk about everything that camp has to offer. This leads me to my last question…
What is camp like?
Now, this is where my story ends. This question is not for me to answer. Not even words can describe what camp is like. This question needs to be answered with the experience of camp itself. I did what I could do to draw the picture. It’s your time to color the picture in yourself. Every picture will be unique but will have one thing in common, it’s filled in with the experience that camp has tattooed in our memory and those experience can never be taken away from us. We get to cherish them as long as we live.