Summer camp review from a seasoned, 5th grade camper
By Anna P.
I was 9 years old and stuck in the winter doldrums. Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day were over, and I felt bored, with nothing to look forward to in the near future. My mom suggested that we should go to Memorial City Mall, saying, “Houston Family Magazine is hosting a camp fair there. We could look for a summer camp for you.”
I had never been to a summer camp before. I was curious, so I decided to go to the camp fair. We entered the mall where there were colorful
booths as far as the eye could see–dozens of summer camps just begging for people’s attention. And believe me, there was something for everyone, from LEGO’s camps to theatre camps, fencing camps, gymnastics camps, cooking camps, digital media camps—the options were endless.
My mom suggested dozens of camps, but they didn’t seem the right fit for me at that time. Finally, a camp poster caught my eye. It showed pictures of kids speeding down a zip line, splashing about a water park and sitting on wooden benches before an outdoor cross. I pulled my mom to the booth, and she smiled in agreement. We talked to the guy at the booth. It turns out the camp was called Carolina Creek, a Christian camp with a lot of fun activities, like archery, zip lining, riflery, boat riding and mini golf. Campers also learn more about God and deepen their connection with him. The camp is divided into two different camps, depending on the camper’s age: Creekside is for grades 6-12; Wild Side is for grades K-5.
I decided to walk on the wild side and give Carolina Creek a try.
My first year: Novice camper
The months between February and late June, when my camp session started, crawled by at a snail’s pace. I was a little nervous. What if I missed my parents? What if the food didn’t taste good? What If I couldn’t make friends? I pushed the thoughts aside and focused on my excitement, eager to explore this new world and greet a new chapter in my life.
A good way to vent my energy was getting my supplies in order. My parents bought me a hot pink trunk, and my mom and I went to Hobby Lobby and picked out a bunch of stickers to decorate it. On top I carefully spelled my name with big, gold, shiny stickers. We also went shopping for a swim suit, shorts and t-shirts, including items to match the camp’s fun theme days (like cammo day and orange day).
When camp day finally came around, we loaded my camp things into the car and drove to Huntsville. I could hardly sit still. As we drove into the camp area, we were greeted by a bunch of camp counselors who were cheering their hello’s to the line of camper-carrying cars. That made me feel really welcome and happy.
We turned onto the road of cabins, and my jaw dropped. The cabins were all lined up in a row, and each looked like a different animal. First there was a zebra, second there was a giraffe, after that was a tiger, then an elephant cabin, followed by a bear cabin, and lastly there was a lion cabin. There was a row of cabins for the girls and a row of cabins on the other side of the camp for the boys.
I was going to stay in the elephant cabin. Cool! I love elephants! They’re my second favorite animals, after horses. But there’s more! The cabin had a slide coming out of the back of the second floor, like a tail. Going inside the front door, campers either walked into the sleeping area on the first floor or they climbed the stairs to another sleeping area on the second floor. Best of all, there was a fireman’s pole coming from the top floor leading to the bottom floor! I couldn’t wait to slide down! All the cabins were set up the same.
As soon as my parents dropped me off in my cabin, I made a friend! That was one worry I could cross of my worry list. We met the counselor and sat around in a circle and chatted as we waited for all the campers in our cabin to show up and get settled.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We headed to the cafeteria, a big room called the Mistro. Dinner was the best food ever, and I mentally scratched a second item off my list of worries. As soon as dinner was over we headed to the gym—a huge, I mean HUGE, ark that sits in the middle of the camp– for Kema, an activity where we sang lots of fun Christian songs. Then a guy came up and talked about loving Jesus and God. I felt the Holy Spirit coursing through my veins.
After Kema, we headed back to our cabin, took showers and went to bed. Our schedule was the same all through the week. We woke up, ate breakfast and went to church for thirty minutes. Not your typical church. This church was outside, surrounded by beautiful trees. We sat on wooden benches, facing a cross that stood in front of a lake. It was beautiful and a fantastic way to start the day! I actually looked forward to going each morning!
After church, we would do one of the activities, (archery was my personal favorite). On one day, our activity was ziplining. I got to the top of the ziplining platform, but I was too scared to do it. No problem. The counselor said I didn’t have to do it if I didn’t want to, so I didn’t. No big deal! We also did mini golf, boat riding, riflery, and swimming at the water park.
After the daily activity, we ate lunch at the Mistro, then headed out for free time: we got to spend an hour at the water park, mini golf course or the playground. After free time, we got into groups and talked more about God. We would read something from the Bible, then discuss answers to questions about what we read in a group.
After that, we did another activity, then had dinner at the Mistro (more fabulous food!), went to Kema, then returned to our cabins to go to bed (we slept in bunk beds, and there were around 5 in our room). Occasionally we would have a special day like super hero day, where everyone dressed up like a super hero and did fun things like run through an obstacle course.
By the end of the week, I was exhausted, in a good way. I couldn’t wait to see my family so I could tell them all about camp. They got to hear some of it firsthand, during the camp award ceremony, where campers were given awards for certain character traits their counselors had observed over the week. I was given the Wisdom award. My parents were proud of me.
There was no question about it. We all agreed I was coming back next year.
Return to the scene of the fun
The second time I went to Carolina Creek I was excited and not at all nervous. I realized that going to Carolina Creek k every summer would be my little tradition. Like a second home. I didn’t get to be in the same cabin with my friend from last year, but I did make a new friend.
This time around, I decided to do the zip line, even though I was panicking all the way up the stairs. My friend went up with me because we were supposed to go in pairs. She kept trying to reassure me, but I was just too scared. When we were waiting we said a prayer, just in case. Then they called our names, buckled our belts to the ropes and told us to scoot off the edge. I scooted off and took off! At first I felt like I was falling, but then I felt like I was flying! When I had finally reached the ground, I glanced around for my friend and did not see her anywhere. Then I looked up to see that she was still on the ledge. I’m sure she’ll brave it this year. That’s the beauty of coming back! You get to explore new sides of yourself in a safe environment that feels like a second home, with nothing but the support of friends.
3rd year in the wild
This year I’m even more excited to go to Carolina Creek because I get to bring my best friend, Emma. My mom requested her as roommate in my cabin when she registered me, so we’ll be together all day, every day, for the entire week! Emma and I have been friends for a long time, and I want to share my Carolina Creek tradition with her. We always have a hard time getting together over the summers, and I think this week of fun will make our friendship even stronger. Also my little 7 year-old sister, Violet, will be going to Carolina Creek as a first-time camper! I’m betting Violet will not go on the zip line the first year around, but I’m sure she will some other year. Then again, she’s pretty brave, so who knows! I have high hopes that she makes new friends that help her adjust to the experience. I also know that she will return every summer with a smile on her face, just like me.
To sum everything up, Carolina Creek is amazing! The music alone is fantastic! It really makes God and Jesus sound like what they’re supposed to be. For us kids, throughout the year we are kind of lectured about God. People use fancy words and read directly out of the Bible that’s from long ago, a time we don’t know of and haven’t learned about yet, so it’s hard for us to fully understand how amazing He is.
But when we’re at Carolina Creek, the counselors talk about God in words and ways we can understand, so we fully get everything he has done and continues to do. We sing songs to praise him in our language so we know what we are singing about.
When I went to Carolina Creek , I was awestruck about what the Lord had done for us. I was so amazed that my passion for God had grown 100 times bigger. It changed me in the best way imaginable. I have a better connection with God. Next year will be my last year on the Wild side. I don’t know what’s on Creekside of Carolina Creek (that’s where I’ll go in 6th grade), but I know it will be good.