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Harcerstwo - A Lasting Impression This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Timber!" we shouted as the 50-foot tree fellto the ground. It was the fourth tree my friends - that is, the girls in my tent- and I had cut down that day. I was at camp in Vermont with 60 Polish GirlScouts ranging in age from 12 to 16, from as far north as Rochester, NY and asfar south as Washington, D.C. We were expected to make our accommodations fromwhat we found around us. The trees that we cut down were to go toward thecreation of our beds; if we didn't finish we would have to spend the night on theforest floor. We worked hard sawing, nailing, banging and tying until ourdetermination paid off, and we finished at 11 p.m.

As soon as I closed myeyes, I heard the whistle blow for pobudka, the 6:30 a.m. wake-up call. Igroggily awoke to find myself covered in tree sap (which I had no clue how toremove) and sore all over. But our work was not done. We still had a camp tobuild. The assignments were to build a kitchen, a gate, a flagpole, a chapel,stands for our bags, a latrine and a washing area. The luck of the draw had mytent building the latrine!

My tent members and I went to work digging afour-foot deep hole, making a seat, and everything else needed to build abathroom sufficient for the camp. Five grueling hours later, wefinished.

The next few days were just as hard, but when Visiting Day came,it was all worth it. Our families and friends were very impressed.

"You guys did all this? Yeah, right!" my disbelieving brothersaid. I could see his point. Who would think a group of urban and suburban girls who just had met could come together to build all thethings needed to survive on their own out in the forest? When I look back at whatI accomplished with the support of my friends, I am amazed. When I tell friendsabout my camp, they ask, "How could you live without TV, or hair dryers, hotshowers and telephones?" The answer is simple. Because there were so manythings to do, we barely had the time to think about or care about luxuries. Ifelt like asking them, "How could you live without the brilliant stars atnight, the overwhelming scent of fresh pine, and the feeling of sisterhood thatconnects us all at camp?"

Camp wasn't perfect, though. Onefrightening experiences was coming face-to-face with a full-grown bear. My friendand I were alone when we heard a rustle near the kitchen.

"What'sthat?" Maria asked.

"Probably a squirrel," I replied,but in case it was not, we headed toward the kitchen.

"Oh mygod!" Maria yelled. "A bear!" Sure enough, I looked up to see agrowling bear only 20 feet from us. Filled with panic, I watched it stand on itshind legs. Our first reaction was to run, but we remembered the number-one ruleof bear encounters: never run, but instead make a lot of noise. We yelled andbanged on nearby pots and it ran away, frightened.

Even with this bearincident, when the time came to leave, we were all sad. We exchanged addressesand hugs before going our separate ways.

Now, when I look back on camp itamazes me how I and others, who had never even handled a saw before, built ourown beds. I realized that only at Harcerstwo could I find friends with my Polishculture to share such a great life experience. I look forward to next summer withmy old friends, and the new ones I will make at Harcerstwo.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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