I can’t measure happiness in numbers. It’s not quantitative data I can compile into a graph then integrate to find exactly how many units of happiness I had in x amount of time. It’s a feeling, one measured only by the sum of the arc lengths of my smiles, number of content friends, and volume of especially good apples consumed.
The greatest sum of those things occurs for me at Camp Palawopec; it simply means happiness. There are few things I need to be happy: amazing friends, a beautiful landscape, and the superior feeling I get when I know I’m doing something good. Somehow, Camp is a mosaic that contains all of those things; it began to form piece by piece in the summer of 2011.
On the first night spent at Camp, I experienced the first of many evening campfires. We all took a seat in the wood benches around the fire and watched as the core was lit, as the flames grew, grew-grew to 10 feet. The wind blew and it roared, sputtering embers everywhere. It was kind of terrifying, but exhilarating to feel that warmth. The giant fire illuminated all the magical skits, jokes, and songs that went on around it. I envied the courage the counselors must have had to go up to that fire with their guitar, croon a beautiful tune, and somehow manage to entrance us all. When I sat around that fire and listened to the soft strumming of guitar, everything in the world was silenced, except for that tune. That kind of magic was just beautiful-I’d always wanted to be a magician.
I got my chance soon enough to do become that, to make my own magic. Time came for me to step into counselor Chacos, and I happily did so. I wanted to be an amazing counselor, so I thought about what that meant: setting a great example so I could change lives, inspire people, and show them joy in new things. Suddenly, such a harmless summer job became such a daunting task. But I found that I just needed to relinquish a bundle of quirkiness so I could become the most ridiculous and creative person ever. One of the highlights of this past summer was when I was with my camper, Lila, and we made up an entire dance routine to a song about sunshine and lollipops. We perfected the routine and singing the song, then urged whoever was coming by to sit down so we could perform to an audience. I just let my dorkiness and bad dancing complement everything I did, because strangely enough, that was inspirational.
But I still hadn’t created the one magic I’d honestly always loved the most-music at campfire. I’d been playing guitar and singing for years, but my only audience consisted of my mother, who, regardless, told me I was amazing. Of all my tasks, performing at campfire was the most petrifying. But I had a desire to add to the warmth at campfire that I knew didn’t just come from the flames; I knew it came from the love of the people singing, acting, and dancing around it. So I mustered up my courage to pick up my guitar, stand up, and go up to that fire. I managed to sing the first line, and the rest was just so easy, so ridiculously natural that I didn’t even know why fear was present before, because the realization came that Camp was my home, and everyone there was my family.
Everything at Camp means a maximum of happiness. Those few weeks of the summer, that sum of arc lengths, number of content friends, and volume of especially good apples consumed is the greatest. I still have magic to make next summer, more crazy dances to make up, more weirdness to exude, more songs to sing, and I cannot wait.