To My Younger Self Taylor freeman - from the heart - Tyler hill camp

To My Younger Self,

You don’t quite know this yet, but you’re about to spend the next ten summers at this mysterious place. Running and laughing throughout Girls’ Side, which right now seems unfamiliar. Chanting and eating in that dining hall covered in plaques, where one day you will hang your own. Spending every night in that bustling canteen, where you will attempt and fail to sneak more than one candy per night from Slammo. You don’t quite know this yet, but those songs that everyone else is singing, you will one day be teaching the rest of the camp. Those CIT girls leading Olympics that you just can’t help but stare at, you will be one of them (And you’ll also win Olympics but that’s another story). And that girl that you met on that giant rock on lower camp, the one with the goofy glasses and the cheesy smile, well, she will be your best friend. So will all of the girls surrounding you as you stare up at those giants signs from the window seat of the bus that just rolled through the gates. It’s the start of an incredible journey, and you don’t quite know this yet, but you’re home.

I am speaking to you, my 8-year old, buck tooth, clumsy self, along with all of you that are reading this who are at the very start of your Tyler Hill careers. You have absolutely NO idea what’s coming. It’s one of those things that is so special, and so unexplainable, so I’ll try my best to do it justice. I am speaking to you to give you a sneak peak of all that is to come, and to tell you to cherish every single moment. I promise it will go by too quickly.

I am writing this to all of you from my college dorm room. Yes, COLLEGE. It’s absolutely crazy to me, because here I am, supposed to be an adult and all, but still willing to put on a tutu anytime I’m given the chance. As you grow older, people will tell you to stop coming back to camp. They’ll tell you that you need to get an internship, or you need professional experience, or you need to make some money. I am living and breathing proof, reporting live from the University of Pennsylvania, that this is NOT the case. Go back year after year for as long as you can. I’ve learned all my best skills and have had all my best experiences at camp, not behind an office desk.

That being said, you still have limited time here. Two months can easily feel like seconds, and ten summers will flash before your eyes. Don’t blink. Take every opportunity presented to you and don’t be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone. Paint your face for soccer games and make animal noises at the opposing team (But remember, STARFISH ALWAYS). When it starts to pour, grab your shampoo and conditioner and move shower hour outside for the day. Dress in whacky costumes, wear roller skates to canteen, and hold your best friend’s hand whenever it’s empty. Eat another cup of that banana oreo pudding (you cannot find it anywhere else) and find every excuse possible to cheer on the chairs in the dining hall. You will one day no longer be able to do this, since standing on the seats in the cafeteria at school is highly frowned upon.

You will dread the end of your camper years. You will stay up till dawn the night before the last day, and hold on to the closest tree when the engines of the buses start grumbling. Tears will flow, as you refuse to accept the reality and question whether you will ever stop crying. The answer is yes, you will, I promise. The truth of the matter is that although one chapter is ending, another one is beginning. You’ll get campers of your own. Not only will you change them, but they will change you, and all for the better. You’ll start to see bits of yourself in each and every one of them as you teach them the secrets and traditions. You’ll show them how to spot the big dipper in the night sky, you’ll get into a prank war with Andy and Wendy, and you’ll bring them back treats from your days off. I am no longer embarrassed to say that some of my best friends are nine years old, and I’m forever grateful for their emoji-loving, crazy-dancing, silly, amazing selves. I come back every summer for them and cannot wait to be their group leader in the summer of 2017. If you guys are reading this, thank you for turning my world upside down and allowing me the privilege to call you mine. I love you all so much and am beyond lucky to be your counselor, friend, and summer mother.

Tyler Hill Camp is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some it’s a bunch of sports fields, to others it’s two beautiful lakes. Maybe it’s where you can learn how to water ski, or maybe it’s where you learn the meaning of true friendship. But to me, it’s home, and you don’t quite know this yet, but I can’t wait for you to find out.

All the best,

Taylor

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