1. You’ll be dirty and disgusting, but you’ll feel proud of it. You’ll feel like you earned it.
(Of course, with that comes infected bug bites and screaming burns – just ask Livie how unpleasant it can be.)
2. The campers can be so sweet, and will bloom beautifully with just a little bit of attention, and you’ll feel amazing … on top of the world … invincible.
(Of course, you’ll also have your heart broken. Girls will be depressed, abused, unfairly hurt. You’ll see disorders and you won’t know what to do, and you’ll wanna cry, but you can’t. You have to be strong, even if they can’t, because that’s your job.)
3. Sometimes you’ll connect with a girl, and she’ll beam every time she sees you, sit by you at every meal, and knot you a friendship bracelet with her very own hands.
(Of course, you’ll have to force her away sometimes, so she can learn independence. You can’t get too close, for her sake and yours. That’s what you tell yourself, over and over, when you see her crestfallen face.)
4. The other counselors will become some of the dearest friends you’ll ever have. You’ll learn five years worth of information in five weeks and when the last day finally comes, you’ll cry, even though you know you’ll see them again next summer.
(Of course, as soon as you make it past the camp gates, they’ll resume their normal lives and they’ll be new people, strangers you’d never wave at on the street, much less share your life story with.)
5. You’ll go back, year after year, and nothing will change. The bugs are there, the cabins bare, and the dining hall is barely cooler than outside. Your fellow counselors will be there with open arms, and you’ll always have a hot, sweaty home-away-from-home, where the rest of the world doesn’t matter and you’re always forgiven. Always loved. Always welcome.
(Of course, it only lasts for a month.)
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.