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Stanford Report, September 6, 2000

Rock climbing and raccoon chasing, Teen Campers build friendships, confidence

BY LISA SHWARTZ

"Camp?! Camp?! Why, Dad, why?!"

I did not want to go to camp this summer. This is the last vacation I have before entering high school; and as anyone with teenagers at home knows, this is a very difficult time of life. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my friends. Sure, the name "Teen All Sports Camp" was intriguing, especially the words "Sports" and "Teen." But when it came time actually to go, I had second thoughts. But that quickly changed.

Within the first hour of camp at Stanford, all of the campers became friends, something that is very rare for a group of 13- and 14-year-olds. Our counselors were funny, outgoing and understanding. They always had fun and original games and sports for us to play, ranging from rock climbing to bowling, from fountain hopping to camping. At first, I didn't think I'd be up for all of these fast-paced activities. But I was always motivated to try new things, which I'm glad I did. I formed a wonderful bunch of friends who made every sport that much more enjoyable by working together as a team ­ another thing you don't see often in teenagers.

My favorite part of all, I'd say, was the camping trip to the woods near La Honda. Since it was on the last day of camp, everyone was already really close. It was tight to be able to sit around the campfire and just laugh with your friends. And there were some interesting adventures. When some of my fellow campers tried to chase a skunk and a raccoon, the animals chased them back to their tents.

I also enjoyed being able to see the university in such a hands-on way. I am thinking of becoming a journalist, and I have considered applying to Stanford.

I learned three very important things from my camp that I will remember for quite a long while. Number One is to never give up and to try your hardest. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it's true! If I hadn't done half the things I did at camp, I know I'd regret it totally! Number Two is to give people a chance. I admit that sometimes I am kind of judgmental when I first meet someone, but the atmosphere at camp was always, "That's cool. If that's what you're into, that's all right with me." I will try to keep that same mentality when I meet new people this school year, and not judge so quickly. Number Three and perhaps the most important lesson of all is to have fun. Seriously! I am so glad I came to camp this summer! Otherwise I'd have been sitting alone at home like I am right now. Camp was the defining thing I did on this vacation ­ what I will remember about the summer before entering high school. So, before this summer is over, here's my advice to other teens: Get out and try something new, OK? I'm sure glad I did! SR

 

Lisa Shwartz will be a freshman at Soquel High School in Santa Cruz. Her father, Mark Shwartz, is a science writer at the Stanford News Service.