Ever since I was younger, I’ve always believed myself to be a writer. I wrote notes to my mom for back talking or getting in trouble, I wrote poems to express my feelings, I wrote my best friend notes all throughout high school, I love stationery, and I write cards and postcards more often than anyone else I know. Writing has always been my way of expressing how I felt.
I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I never knew where to start or what to write about. Given the pandemic and all of the free time I had towards the middle of the year, I found myself giving more thought into writing and publishing a book. Even if I knew what I would write about, though, I still had no idea how to go about publishing one.
Melody, a girl from my hometown in Spring Hill, who I actually went to middle school with and also conveniently had a blog I read, has been publishing children’s books now for a few years (check them out here). A few days after I was starting to think more and more about writing a book, she announced that she started her own publishing course company! Talk about a sign from the universe, right?
She described that she had created this course and company after extensive research and experience in publishing her own books so that new or aspiring authors could do it with a little more ease. She would walk you through all the steps of publishing a book until you got to your end result – your book in hand! Since I had participated in a giveaway she hosted online, I received a discount for the course and figured what the hay. *If you’re interested in signing up for the course, use my code: brittney25 to get 25% off!*
I messaged her some of my ideas and thoughts to see what she thought of them until I knew what I was going to write about…. SUMMER CAMP! Cause, you know, of course.
For anyone who knows me personally, you know summer camp (and Dayspring) are a huge part of my life and who I am. So much so, I have it tattooed on my body. I could never put into words the experience that summer camp is, but I thought maybe I can take my experience and use it as a base idea.
Shelly Goes To Summer Camp is the story of a young girl going to a sleep-away camp for the first time. She’s worried and scared since she’s never been away from home, but her parents keep telling her it will be okay. When she gets there, she’s shy and doesn’t have many friends. Not long after, she meets a friend that makes her camp experience so much better! She comes to love camp and all of the activities they do and cries at the thought of having to wait a whole year before seeing her new friends again. It’s a story about an unexpected friendship (the best kind) that will only grow from here. Because, ultimately, life long friends are the biggest and best take-aways from camp.
Throughout my writing and illustrating process, I found myself struggling with the lack of resemblance in the actual summer camp. Since I knew exactly what it looked like, I didn’t want to do a disservice to camp or my camp family by not representing it as such. However, I had come to realize that there would never be enough words or pictures to accurately entail all that camp is. Instead, I focused more on my book being inspired by camp more so than based on camp.
So here I am now, writing a blog post not only to announce my book officially being published (!!!) but to also share my camp experience. While I’ve been a part of events at Dayspring Conference Center since the ripe age of 11 (2007 gang), I didn’t partake in summer camp until right after I graduated high school in 2014. Since I was involved in other events for so many years, I already knew a decent amount of the people and campers involved in summer camp.
You might think you know someone, but until you spend 24 hours a day 5-6 days a week with them (or 6 entire weeks), you don’t. All that time with people, you’re bound to make long lasting friendships. I’ve met so many of my best friends through camp. I’ve created so many amazing memories through camp. I’ve become a better person through camp. I am the person I am today because of camp.
Being surrounded by like-minded people is critical to becoming who you want to be – the best version of yourself. Having them still love you unconditionally through sleep exhaustion, camp hair, conflict mediation, smelly clothes, high-tension community circles, ugly laughs, and ugly cries is priceless.
I’ve jumped in murky water to help campers who flipped their kayak.
I’ve kept my calm when campers refuse to sleep at 1am even though I’m exhausted.
I’ve fixed flooding and broken toilets at 2am.
I’ve cleaned up nervous, homesick campers’ vomit with a smile on my face and an empathetic hug.
I’ve read bedtime stories to campers who were already asleep, because I wanted to get to the ending.
I’ve mediated camper (and counselor) conflicts and misunderstandings.
I’ve learned how to say “I like big butts, and I can not lie” in Spanish from bilingual campers.
But I’ve also been someone’s shoulder to cry on.
I’ve been a listener and friend to conversations kids that age shouldn’t have to have.
Someone’s comfort when they didn’t have one.
Someone’s home away from home.
Someone’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Someone’s camp best friend.
I’m sure there are campers’ lives who I’ve impacted in one way or another, but there are just as many campers who have impacted my life. I still have notes written to me from campers with tears in their eyes about how I helped them. I wore a camp bracelet on my ankle made by a fellow counselor for years until it finally broke off. I can look back to just about any picture from camp and remember the exact moment like it was yesterday.
I was given a support system through the people I met at camp. I was given people who understood me in ways other people probably never will. I had experiences I would never get anywhere else. While camp is a ton of work, exhausting, and crazy at times, it’s an environment unlike any other. Memories there will forever be some of my favorites.
If you’ve kept reading this long, thank you for sticking through all of my mumble. Like I said before, camp can never be put into words; it’s something you have to experience for yourself. However, I hope this helped to give some insight. The main take away I suppose is that camp is a part of who I am and allowed me to create relationships with people that will be in my life forever. Camp friendships are some of the best friendships, and that’s the main point I wanted to make in my book. I hope I did.
My idea, assuming this book is successful, is that I can continue to write future books that are inspired by my travels. Since I go somewhere new every year, there are endless opportunities and experiences. These books could then also serve a geography/historical purpose where readers could go to those same places and see the same things depicted in the books. For children, this could be quite the experience! One thing at a time though 🙂
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip down emotional, memory lane, and I hope it at least made sense. If not, thanks for reading anyways 😉
If you’re interested in learning more about me, please visit my About Me page here.
If you’d like to purchase my book, please click here, and THANK YOU!
If you’re interested in self-publishing and would like to become a member of The Publishing Room, click here, and use my code BRITTNEY25 for 25% off your membership!
If you’d like to continue walking down memory lane, keep scrolling to see some of my top memories/pictures from my years at camp!
As always, thank you for reading! Until next time ❤