A Life-Changing Experience

Connor Burke

Connor pictured with his 2013 CIT Directors, Katniss and Delta.

By Connor Burke:

I look down and see fifty feet separating myself from the ground and it shocks me to my core. I’m panting uncontrollably and desperately grab for the closest rope and grasp it with my hands drenched in sweat. I hear distant shouts from below as cabin mates cheer me on to progress farther through the ropes course, while I hesitate to move forward. I look back at the ground and wish I hadn’t as my stomach starts to become painfully nauseous and I feel the urge to vomit, I slowly creep closer inch by inch to the end platform which seemed like and unachievable goal. Stepping on this last platform gives me immediate satisfaction from joy that I hadn’t fallen to my death, I didn’t feel the need regurgitate the lunch I had just eaten, and my palms stopped dripping like a waterfall. Although the course was utterly safe my great fear of heights got the best of me and gave me what seemed like near death experience and gave me a new perspective on life. When I touched solid ground I felt reinvigorated and overjoyed for completing one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.

The place where I am most content is Gold Arrow Camp, an activities camp for children, in the mountains of the High Sierras located on lake. My family for generations has been going to this camp starting with my Grandfather who went over 70 years ago. This camp has had one of the most positive effects on my life while only spending there only 2 weeks out of the summer.

Connor BurkeOne camp policy is that electronics are forbidden all of camp giving you more time to socialize with people around you instead of interacting with your phone all day. I think phones are a very unnecessary part of our lives and I am completely content not having to worry about what picture to take for my next instagram or replying to a text. Sometimes our lives get to complicated and it’s nice for two weeks to just drop off the grid and rough it without technology and live in the moment not on the screen.

The atmosphere of this camp is something I cant find anywhere else I have been to. The people there are some of the best I have or will ever meet with their charismatic personalities to them caring. Everyone at the camp is mainly carefree and free of judgment that they would get outside of camp. I see this as a chance to unwind and have a great time.

I also see this as an opportunity to grow as a person. I am a careful person when it comes to doing most activities. This camp puts me out of my comfort zone every year and pushes me to surpass all previous expectations I had before. While also very timid during my childhood I learned to socialize and get along with other kids during the years up at camp. Being stuck in a cabin for two weeks with the only thing to do is socialize really pushes you to make new friends which was hard for me to do.

I was also part of the CIT program (Counselor in Training) where I was an assistant to counselors in cabins to look after kids. I have just completed my 2nd year doing this and it has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life. Watching these kids grow as I did when I was their age and getting to know them has been an unreal experience. Waking up in the middle of the night to clean a soiled bed is never fun or breaking up fights between two campers over and argument can be frustrating but at the end of the day I always drift asleep looking forward to the next day with excitement.

I get emotional whenever I think I cant go back to this place next year. I have spent the best times of my life here and made some of my best friends. This place in the mountains is really where I feel at home and closest to nature. I can’t think of any other place where I would want to be for the rest of my life.