There is a place between the trees where everything feels paused, where the sounds of text message pings are replaced by the slaps of canoe paddles on glassy water, where the double tap of an Instagram ‘like’ takes a back seat to the world’s tightest hugs, and where laughter, friendship, and fun are the key ingredients to helping strong young girls and boys become proud, confident women and men.
This place is Camp Thunderbird.
I came to Thunderbird for the first time when I was nine years old. When I think back to that trembling, wide-eyed kid stepping off the bus into a sea of songs and smiles, I feel on some level she knew right away that fifteen years later, here I’d still be, twenty-four now, telling all of you how Thunderbird can change your life.
Thunderbird gives you the kinds of friendships that can only form when you live, learn, laugh, play, struggle, and succeed together. It’s a special kind of bond that grows when you learn to support one another all day every day for weeks in a row. Ask anyone who has come to Thunderbird, and I am certain they will tell you there is nothing in the world like a camp friend.
Thunderbird teaches you to set goals and push yourself farther than you ever thought you could. It teaches you resilience, to laugh off frustrating moments. It gives you the freedom to be yourself and the bravery to fail. It is where you learn that being responsible and mature doesn’t mean you can’t also be youthful and silly and free. It gives you a love for nature, the chance to climb mountains, bike miles and miles, and canoe down streams.
Most of all, Thunderbird gives you happiness, pure, unadulterated happiness.
The summer has only just begun and already we have watched the campers learn new skills, gain confidence, and, of course, have so much fun. There have been beautiful climbing trips, amazing specialty days, rockin’ dance parties, crackling campfires, and one of the most amazing northern lights displays that Thunderbird has ever seen. Laying under the stars watching bright green stardust dance across the sky is something we will never forget.
I think that in today’s screen-centered world, camp is more important than it has ever been. For four or eight weeks, our campers get to shut down their laptops, turn off their phones and just let themselves be kids. The concerns for who their top friends may be on Snapchat or how many ‘likes’ their pictures get on Facebook fade away, and in place the concerns become which colors to weave together in their next friendship bracelets, whether to spend the afternoon water skiing across the lake or playing an exciting game of tennis, and which crazy songs to scream out during meal times.
At Thunderbird we don’t care what you’re wearing or how many photos you’ve been tagged in. We care that you are smiling, that you are learning to love yourself for exactly who you are and to love others for exactly who they are, too.
Thunderbird is a refuge from the outside world, yet it also prepares you for it better than anything else. While it lets us all escape for a while, it allows us to return feeling stronger and more prepared for whatever the universe might throw our way.
The thing about camp is it doesn’t matter when you get here or how long you stay. Once Thunderbird is in your life, it is in your life forever.
To all the campers and their families who have joined us for the first time this summer, we welcome you with open arms. We are so happy to have you join our family. For those of you who have been with us before, welcome home.
We cannot believe how quickly the summer is flying by. Every summer, it is a surprise how fast it goes, but we know it only flies because of how much fun we have.
I will be blogging with updates throughout the rest of the summer, so make sure to keep checking back to find out what everyone at camp is up to!
Molly “Pixel” Sprayregen