..Kaitlyn Simonds..

Camp Waziyatah
Even Better Than Shopping

When you think of camp what do you think of? I am assuming that you are not at all like me, a spoiled, loves-to-shop, 13-year-old who cannot stand being anywhere that is somewhere without air-conditioning in the heat of the summer.

So, as you can imagine, when I heard I was going away to summer camp, I threw the biggest hissy fit in the world, and it was all to no avail. Quite a blow to my acting ego, but much to my surprise, I absolutely loved the experience! I had so much to choose from, between water skiing, horseback riding and skate boarding, my head was going in circles over what to choose first.

I slept in a cabin, without an air conditioner in sight and on top of that, I did not shop for over seven weeks. I didn't think that was possible and yet, camp was so much fun I barely had time to think about it. Camp Waziyatah, thumbs up to you.

To me, Camp Waziyatah (a.k.a Wazi) wasn't just a camp, but a second home. In Wazi I met kids from all over the world: France, England, Korea and even Russia. I am from Bradenton, a very small town in Florida, and there are not many people from places memorized for geography class. As a matter of fact, there aren't any (that I have met), so meeting people from such different backgrounds was an experience beyond words.

I had a counselor from Guatemala and another from London. Grace, my counselor from London taught me, "one doesn't ask to go to the bathroom. They rather ask to use the toilet." One of my good friends Alex (a.k.a Frankie) was from France and he taught me some new dance moves, very different from anything I've seen here.

In my opinion the best part about camp was all the different activities including water skiing, archery, baseball, tennis, improv, canoeing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, rock climbing, acting, and the plays produced by the camp. Disney filmed the series Bug Juice at the camp, so they know a thing or two about acting.

My favorite activity, however, was water skiing. I loved this so much because I never thought I would actually have the guts to do it. I did, of course, though it took a while for me to find the courage to try. As soon as I got my big feet into the skis my heart was racing. I was so close to bailing out, telling my instructor to let me off the boat because I was just too scared. When I got into the water I was trembling, but when I stood up for the very first time, you cannot imagine how big the smile on my face was. It's interesting. You can never really do anything if you're not willing to try.

Camp Waziyatah is built on a set of Core Values. These values include courtesy, integrity, respect and responsibility. They emphasize such ideals as tolerance and caring for people of all backgrounds. People have so much to learn from people of other cultures, of different nationalities, because we are, after all, just people sharing in the same needs and desires.

I'm so looking forward to returning this summer, even if there are no air conditioned cabins, but I'm packing an extra box of tissues. Aside from all the joyous activities we share, on the last day of camp I found something else shared by all the camp kids and that was the tears filling our eyes as we were faced with saying goodbye, not just to Wazi, but to one another.

If you want to experience a truly magical journey, one that even beats shopping, check out the web site for Wazi, www.wazi.com.

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