Alyssa Michelle

January 19, 2009
I met Alyssa for the first time at camp in the summer of 2006. I will never forget the look of her chin-length blonde hair straightened and gelled into three long spikes above her head. Alyssa was in the second stage of leadership training at New Life Ranch. That meant that she was my cabin’s L.I.T. (Leader in Training). Our whole cabin instantly grew to love her. We sat with her during free time reading our own mail and everyone else’s too. Alyssa was everyone’s best friend that week. That week was the most fun I had ever had at camp. Alyssa and I stayed in touch for a while but lost contact around Thanksgiving.


I met Alyssa again two summers ago when I arrived at camp. She was the same person I had left the previous summer. She was hyper, crazy, coffee-addicted, and totally on fire for God. Alyssa had now finished training and was working as a lifeguard for the camp. While she was having an amazing time, I was miserable my first week of camp. I didn’t know anyone in my cabin, I wasn’t making any friends, and there was a guy from school that made fun of me constantly throughout our stay. Every time I was alone, I was terrorized by this guy that I barely knew. Alyssa made everything better. I stayed up talking to her several nights until lights out and sometimes even past it. We hung out together by the pool or creek during free time when she was on duty, because she was my only friend there. She turned what would have been a miserable experience into one of the best summers of my life and she became one of my best friends.

The end of week one was nearing and I was going to be a stay over camper. I could not have been more excited; that is until I found out that my own personal terrorist was staying over too. This time we would be in a much smaller group and there would be no escaping him. Alyssa once again came to my rescue. You see, parents are allowed to pick up stay over campers and return them to camp later, but my parents, eight hours away in Texas, could not. Alyssa had me call my parents and ask permission to go with her back to our hometown in Oklahoma for the day. My parents said yes and I was again looking forward to being a stay over camper. That Saturday was easily my favorite summer memory that year. We did quite a bit of talking on the two hour drive from Colcord to Tulsa. I found out that I was not the only one who had had a tough year before they came to camp. We got to Tulsa and ate with Alyssa’s family then headed back. It was now my turn to tell what had happened in those few long months since we had lost contact. Unlike most people, Alyssa didn’t interrupt much, she just listened, but she had plenty of advice when I was finished.

Over the next week, we continued to talk every night and hang out everyday at free time, even though I now had friends there. My favorite free time that week was when Alyssa and I built a sandcastle on the volleyball court. She had time off before she worked the blob and so we decided to find something fun to do. Alyssa was also there the first time I faced my fear of heights and went off the blob and she was encouraging me the entire time. Alyssa was no longer just my friend; she was now my role model.

Alyssa was really nervous about starting college that Fall at the University of Oklahoma. Her roommate loved to paint and read, which sounded boring to someone as crazy and outgoing as Alyssa. Though scared, she kept a positive all summer. I continued to talk to Alyssa almost every day after camp and I still talk to her at least once a week. We kept texting and calling frequently and I finally told Alyssa something I had really struggled with the past year and she could completely relate. She’s always there when I have a problem and she has great advice.

I have learned more than I could ever have imagined from my friendship with Alyssa. She taught me a lot about letting go, giving things up to God, and about living in the present, not in the past or future. The funny thing is, she’s never tried to teach me anything. She is simply living her life, and I’ve learned from her example. Alyssa is definitely the hero in my life because she is my friend, my mentor and most importantly, my lifeguard.





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