I do camp for the Woodsey Magic.

Sometimes I ask other counselors what exactly “Woodsey Magic” is to them. Usually the answer comes back as a smile from ear to ear, a touching camp story, and some comment about how difficult Woodsey Magic is to explain. If you’ve felt it before, you know what it is, though you might not be able to describe it. I think it’s probably a little different for everybody, but here’s my version:

From the moment we’re born, much of our lives are decided for us; our names, our families, our environment. As we grow up, these things build stresses, pressures, and expectations upon themselves. Before we know it, we’ve become products of our environment; molds of what the people and circumstances around us have designed. Perhaps more often than not, that mold doesn’t quite resemble the person we wish we were. Maybe we wish we were more brave, outgoing, confident, happier, friendlier. Maybe it’s something completely different. But whoever you are, my guess is there’s something about yourself that you’d like to change a little.

What if I told you that you can be exactly who you want to be?

For me, that’s what camp is about. As we bus up the mountain, hundreds of campers get to choose, many of them for the first time, exactly who they want to be. They get to hit the redo button and start everything new. They can choose their names, their attitudes, their behavior, etc. No longer do they need to conform to the reputation that their pasts have imposed upon them. They are free to be who they’ve always wanted to be. They can be their favorite version of themselves.

Some campers understand this from day one. They break out of their molds and are loud and happy and free, uninhibited by the fears of judgment and ridicule that may be so common down the mountain. For other campers, it takes them a bit more time. But they all get it eventually. You can see it in their uncontrollable smiles and the tears running down their faces on the last day of camp as they say goodbye to their new brothers and sisters.

This is my Woodsey Magic. For those of us lucky enough to have been able to experience it, it is something we will never forget. It is one of the greatest forms of happiness that I have personally ever felt, and I know the same can be said for many other campers and volunteers. But the true beauty of this experience is that it plants an idea deep into the minds and hearts of everyone who feels it. The idea that our lives are not chosen for us, but that we have the power to choose who we are, and the lives that we want. I believe that this is one of the most powerful and empowering ideas a person can have, and it is one that every single child deserves. This is why I do camp.

I do camp for the Woodsey Magic.

Much Woodsey Love,