by Tyra Griffin, CICS Ralph Ellison, Class of 2016
Boarding the bus to Camp Manito-wish YMCA sent an array of thoughts through my head. I saw unfamiliar faces and did not know what to expect. As I hugged my mother for the last time before what seemed like would be an eternity, I reluctantly walked onto the bus. I had last minute reservations about whether or not I wanted to go. Sensing a point of no return, I decided against those thoughts. Being the shy introvert that I am, I did not speak much on the bus and had plenty of time to rack my brain about what was to come. Would I make new friends? Would I overcome my fears? Are there bears in the woods? What does camp for ten days have to do with being a Scholar?
Little did I know, I would find out the answer to those questions very soon. Much to my comfort, I did not see any bears! I knew I wanted to work on my communication skills and become better at meeting and conversing with new people, and Camp Manito-wish helped me accomplish those goals.
For the first five days of camp we completed leadership activities which required you to work with others, communicate effectively, and persevere when the activities were overwhelmingly challenging. The second portion of camp was our “on-trail” experience. During this time we spent three days in the wilderness of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Trail was particularly challenging because it forced me so far outside of my comfort zone. As mentioned before, I am a shy and introverted person; however, being on trail forced me to rely on and communicate with others for almost every thing. When canoeing all day became too much to handle, we had to depend on each other to keep a positive attitude.
During this three-day trip, I learned to depend on others when I needed them. Most importantly, I learned that it is okay to ask for help, which is something my pride almost never let me do beforehand. Camp Manito-wish expanded my comfort zone and my experience there makes me want to continue breaking down personal barriers.
Now it is October and Camp Manito-wish is a few months behind us, but I cannot seem to escape my experience. I have continued to build a bigger and bigger comfort zone by keeping an open mind and challenging myself like I was challenged at camp. If one thing is for sure, it is that the leadership qualities I learned at camp have translated over into my everyday life. Not only did I get to create a close-knit family where I am appreciated, I also was able to work on my communication skills. I know when to ask for help and I know how to stay positive in the face of adversity. My experience at Camp Manito-wish was invaluable and I know it has been beneficial to my life as a leader and a Scholar at CICS Ralph Ellison.