by Sidharth Kumar - Web Admin
Staff huddling for one last picture before heading home after Alameda County's 4-H Camp Week. PC: Megan Sharp
Every year, the “Last Years” leaving at Camp do two things: the first is Friendship Ceremony where they share their greatest and most meaningful memories at Camp and a message for those they leave behind, the second is to place a quote on the walls of the shed. Over time, the Camp Board will vote to repaint the shed refreshing the canvas for the next generation to share their memories and inspiration
This past summer, I attended Alameda County’s 4H Camp for the second time as staff, this time as a counselor. During the past eight years at Camp I’ve seen many “Last Years” leave the program, and this year it might be my turn. Looking at
Camp as a whole it’s much like the shed that lies on its grounds. It is a canvas for many artists, those who leave are replaced by new artists that paint over those that have left. The reality is that all of us want a little bit of that canvas to represent our actions and memories at Camp, but many of us are forgotten, if not immediately, then shortly after our departure. This past year, I did my best to stay on this canvas, to preserve my work.
This year at Camp, the brother of one of my Campers wasn’t interested in being at Camp. He wouldn’t participate in the tribe or Camp-wide activities. He secluded himself. Throughout the week, I worked with him to get him engaged and never gave up because a part of me could relate to not fitting in my first year. I persisted in my efforts to get him to want to come back next year, as my counselor did for me so many years ago. It took a while, but he slowly got engaged with Camp and decided by the end of the week he wanted to come back the next year. This was my addition to the canvas and while it may not impact the camp as a whole, my hope is that this camper is inspired to help other campers see the potential of camp and in this way, my legacy will carry on.
However, looking back to my first year of Camp, something that I, a Camper, never truly understood was that the Friendship Ceremony and leaving a quote wasn’t the end of the journey, it was just the beginning of another. At Camp we come from all walks of life, from affluent areas of Castro Valley and Dublin to some of the most impoverished regions in the nation in Oakland, We all bond at Camp and shed the personas we may have had outside of Camp. We are blank canvases. Those last few things that we do in our final year at Camp is our way of shedding the past and moving forward to adulthood and for most of us a higher education.
The reality is that wherever I go and whatever I do there will be no more blank space on the canvas. It’s my turn to take what I’ve learned from Camp and apply it to the next piece of art that I hope to contribute to, College, and beyond that the world.
The University of California prohibits discrimination or harassment of any person in any of its programs or activities. (Complete nondiscrimination policy statement can be found at http://ucanr.org/sites/anrstaff/files/107734.doc)
Inquiries regarding the University’s equal employment opportunity policies may be directed to John Sims, Affirmative Action Contact, University of California, Davis, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 2801 2nd Street, Davis, CA 95618, (530) 750-1397.