Skylar Coleman spent a summer as a counselor-in-training at YMCA Camp Lakewood in Potosi, Missouri.
How did you become a CIT at YMCA Camp Lakewood?
I was first welcomed into the YMCA family the summer of 2018 when I was accepted into the CIT program at Camp Lakewood. This was a genuinely amazing and fun experience that I will never be able to forget. I met so many unique and true-to-themselves people that I spent an amazing summer with. Because of this I applied and was again accepted as a CIT, only this time for Winter Camp - I decided I could not wait until this summer to hopefully come back.
I will also be continuing my journey by applying as a counselor for Summer 2019, and I can honestly say I have never in my life been so excited for summer to come!
What are some of the things you learned at camp?
I can say that this summer was not only the best, but the most eye-opening and life-changing by far. So much of who I am now came from the self-appreciation and acceptance that I was taught at camp; I no longer worry what others think of me because I know that I am myself for a reason and that should never change.
What were some of the good things that happened at camp?
The time I spent at Camp was not easy and carefree from the get-go. I was the only CIT who had never attended before. I knew none of the normal day-to-day schedules, activities or expectations. After the first few days, I realized how pure the atmosphere and people were. All the counselors were jumping around and singing and I remember thinking, “I have to come back here next summer.” I remember being told the second week “FTK,” but camp isn’t just “for the kids.” It is for the counselors who devote their summers to the kids and to themselves in a welcoming and uplifting environment. Because of camp I am no longer shy to be me; I don’t mind getting up in front of others and being confident in my own skin. This likewise effects my life in innumerable ways. I go out of my comfort zone for what I want, I participate in events, and I met genuinely amazing people that I am sure I will be friends with for years.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
After high school I am planning on going to a university to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology or pre-med track with a graduate degree from medical school. I want a job helping other people with their everyday functionality and happiness. I know this degree will be an immense amount of work, responsibility and dedication. However, camp is not much different and likewise has taught me these core values.
What do you like best about camp?
I am, by nature, an extremely curious, creative, and determined individual. Camp lets me explore all these facets of my personality in an environment I love to be in. There is truly something about the nature and the people at Lakewood that can never be replicated, this is why people come back year after year seeking the thrill of the activities and the sheer joy of being truly yourself. So much of who I am and who I have become is because of my time I spent around such likeminded yet unique individuals last summer.