Sportsmanship, tolerance, appreciation, respect, friendship, integrity, sensitivity, and helpfulness. What do all of these words mean? Do you see them in your everyday life? To me, these words mean a lot. This year is going to be my ninth summer at Tyler Hill Camp. It has been a part of my life since I stepped off the busses as a 2nd grader in the summer of 2010. Every friday night the whole camp gets together at what we call “Starfish”. Starfish stands for sportsmanship, tolerance, appreciation, respect, friendship, integrity, sensitivity, and helpfulness. Starfish have been around for over 450 million years. They are very durable and can withstand a lot and have for 450 million years. Every starfish can regenerate and grow a leg or arm back if they lose one. These are just some of the traits a starfish holds. Every word in the acronym starfish we use at camp connects to a real life starfish. Like a real starfish, each camper each year tries to regenerate into someone better. Each ceremony, there is a “winner” for that week’s word.
When I was a junior in 2014, I won the appreciation award. My division leader, Ben Weiner called my name and I had to go in front of the whole camp and accept the award and then take a picture with him. The object I got from winning was a little silver starfish that was put on a black piece of lanyard. At the end of the summer, Ben assembled all the starfish winners together and we went down to the lake. He told us that we were a special group of kids that won these awards and he took the necklaces we previously got and changed them from a black lanyard to a red lanyard. He said that the starfish would be with us our whole lives. A few days later, I had lost the little starfish piece of the necklace and went to Ben to tell him. He told me that the little silver starfish was not what mattered, that it was just a useless piece of plastic and that what mattered was why I got the starfish in the first place. Camp has been a part of my life for a long time and it has helped me develop skills and taught me lessons that I use in my everyday life. I try to with and by the best starfish as possible. I think that starfish lies within everyone, not just the people at my camp, but the whole world. You don’t need a silver plastic starfish on a string to believe it, you just need to see it in yourself.
The first “S” is for sportsmanship. I show sportsmanship in my life every single day when I play tennis for Ramapo. I maintain a positive attitude and try to be a great opponent to play against. I am competitive, but I stay fair and show recognition to my opponent.
The “T” is for tolerance. I try to be tolerant. Getting along with three sisters, two older and one younger, is a BIG deal. Everyday I am faced with new challenges, whether its getting the attention of my parents, or trying to not get into an argument with one of my sisters. Next year, two of my sisters will be at college and it will just be me and my younger sister Charlie at home. The boy to girl ratio will finally be even.
The “A” is for appreciation. I am appreciative of everything in my life: parents who love each other, shelter, food, friends, and family. I don’t take anything for granted because I don’t know what other families are going through. I especially appreciate my mom who does all the driving after school and brings me and my sister to all of our activities and my dad who makes all of these activities and hobbies possible while he works in NYC everyday.
The “R” is for respect. I am respectful of my teachers, coaches, parents, and classmates. Respect is one of the most important traits a person can have in my opinion. Without respect everyone would be disobedient, impolite, and inconsiderate.
The “F” is for friendship. I like to think that I have a lot of friends and am friendly with everyone. Being nice to someone and calling them your friend is very courageous of you. What does it take to be a good friend? To me you have to be trustworthy, honest, nice, interested in similar things, and funny. Friend’s are people who you can trust to keep a secret and help you in times of need.
The “I” is for Integrity. I think I have pretty good integrity. Not many people know what this word means. It means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Whether it is helping cleaning up the gym equipment after class even if the coach does not ask you or its cleaning up a mess that you were not even a part of.
The other “S” is for sensitivity. I try to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. Sometimes it is good to be sensitive because it allows you to understand how other people are feeling. Being conscious of another person’s needs or wishes. It is kind of like sitting at a separate table in elementary school if someone in your class is allergic to peanuts. In this situation you are being sensitive and understanding of this person’s situation.
The “H” is for helpfulness. I think of being helpful as being useful to someone and assisting them in a job or some sort of work. I help my mom prepare dinner, take out the trash, get the mail, and clean the house.. Another way to be helpful is if someone close to you is feeling upset, you can try and lift their spirits by making them laugh, have a good time, and get their mind off of whatever it was previously on.
All of the qualities of STARFISH are important and each is an integral part of another. Like a starfish, that survives by regenerating pieces of itself, I look at each starfish attribute as building upon and almost regenerating the next quality. In this way, starfish provides me with a roadmap to being the best person I can be.