by Emma F., Machon Adventure Participant
This summer I had no idea what to expect. As far as I knew, my summer was going to consist of a miserable hiking trip and four weeks of relaxing at camp with some friends. After my first night in the hotel before Outward Bound I realized my experience in this program was going to change my entire life. The hiking trip turned into one of the greatest mental and physical challenges I’ve ever had to face. Every step from climbing up mountains and sleeping with bugs to learning how to respect each other and getting out of our individual comfort zones was a life-changing moment for me. I learned how to connect with my friends to the true extent that we as seventeen year old kids were really capable of. It’s really impossible to know until your backpack is strapped on and you begin the steps through your journey.
The end of our trip we all ran four miles, and at the end there appeared a huge brightly colored banner that said FINISH. As I sprinted up the last hill with my remaining energy, both physical and mental, I thought of how this marked not only the end of a great adventure, but also the end of being a kid. The next day at camp we would be leaders, role models, and have responsibility. We weren’t just campers or a group of rowdy teens who had to be micro-managed with the fear of us continuously arguing with one another. I knew that after I crossed that line that would all change. But unlike that night before we left, now I was ready. It was time to embrace growing up and accepting both the positives and negatives to the other side of camp and everyday life.
As my time as a part of the Machon Adventure Program comes to an end, I’m realizing now how much these past few weeks have changed me for the better. I grew up here. I have found who I want to be and have surrounded myself with friends who accept and love who I am. this summer wasn’t exactly easy, no transition year ever is, but I can say without a doubt that it has made me a better person, and tomorrow when I get home or many years from now wherever I am that’s what I’m going to remember. I’m going to look back on how this summer taught me how to be a leader, how to be be comfortable expressing myself, and how some of your greatest life experiences can occur during the most unexpected times. My summer may be ending, but the journey I’ve started as a Machon never will.
by Aaron E., Machon Adventure Participant
This summer I climbed mountains. Not only did I conquer the actual Table Rock in Pisgah, North Carolina, but I also overcame mountains within myself. Coming into camp my first day as a Machon, I was absolutely terrified, and I had no idea why. After moving into the Village and having some of our first training programs, I realized why I was so anxious; I was scared to grow up. Having been a camper at Coleman for 5 years, I didn’t think I could live up to the legacy of the incredible counselors before me. I knew, after experiencing a week of Outward Bound, I had the strength and mental fortitude to be a good counselor, but could I be a GREAT counselor? The insecure perfectionist that I am, I grew more and more anxious as time went on, until I went so far as to say that wouldn’t come back as a counselor. Seeing the behind the scenes workings of Coleman began to take the magic of camp away, slowly wearing away at my enthusiasm.
That is, until I had my first real interactions with campers. Placed with Kochavim, I had no idea what I should do to connect with the kids, but after an hour of Gaga for Gaga night, my entire perspective on camp changed. The campers all flocked to me with zeal, hoping to make alliances and take out their cabin mates with the rainbow volleyball. With chants of “for the kids” coming from counselors around me, I realized that camp was no longer about me and my experience, but the children’s. Through them, I could enrich my own time at camp and impress upon them the values taught to me as a camper. As a counselor, I would no longer come for one person, but ten, or twelve, or fifteen, or even 400. From that night on, I spent time with that same group of boys, until I began to refer to them as “my kids.” Now, I know why I should come back to camp, and why I genuinely WANT to. Without my Machon Adventure experience, I wouldn’t have come back to camp, but now, I can’t imagine leaving.