The Perfect Paradise: Camp Anchor

Bella Nocera, Reporter

Many kids my age are all obsessed with the same things: their friends, going out, finding love, learning how to drive, their sports, or their studies. Don’t get me wrong: I love all that stuff too (not always the studies), but most of the time my mind is fixated on one thing: Camp Anchor. 

Camp Anchor is a camp for children and adults with special needs. Each summer, teenagers across the Town of Hempstead dedicate 30 hours a week for 6 weeks to volunteer at this camp. I have had the privilege of being one of those teenagers every summer for the past three years. 

At Camp Anchor, we do all sorts of things, anything that would be done at any summer camp! We cook, we go surfing, we do arts and crafts, we do horseback rides, we tie dye t-shirts, we go in the pool and ocean, we do karaoke, we eat LOTS of pizza, we have a camp show (which is my personal favorite event of the summer), and the list goes on. We exchange laughs, smiles, and good memories all the time. 

Camp Anchor is a place that I consider my home; it is my favorite place in the world. I love this place so much that every second I spend away from it, all I think about is going back the next day. It’s to the point where my friends and family sometimes tell me to, “Stop talking about camp already!” Allow me to explain why I have pretty much (unintentionally) made Camp Anchor my entire personality:

Camp Anchor is the only place in the world where you could walk around in a sequined jumpsuit and neon feather boa and no one would ask why. It’s the only place where you could karaoke to songs from “Big Time Rush” or “Hannah Montana” in front of hundreds of people and not feel the slightest bit of embarrassment. It’s the only place where you would roll around on the beach, and not get annoyed that you’re covered in sand for the rest of the day. It’s the only place where you could have a paint fight, and want to be the one to come out covered in the most paint. 

Camp Anchor is a home, where the sun is always shining, and a place where everyone could be their true self, let loose, and have a good time. 

Working at Camp Anchor has truly taught me so much about acceptance, and changed my perspective on life. I’ve learned that we really all have different abilities. My different abilities are different from yours, and those are different from my campers’. Everyone’s different abilities make them who they are; my campers’ different abilities allow them to shine and make them the coolest people I know. They could beat you in any dance off, or karaoke battle. They could make some pretty amazing nachos, and do some pretty impressive dives into the pool. They give the best hugs of all time, and could cheer up anyone’s saddest day. 

All in all, my campers just want to be treated like I would, or how you would. They want to hang out with you just like you would hang out with a friend. They have taught me to treat everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of their different abilities. Not only that, but they have taught me to live life with the same type of confidence, joy, and optimism that they do. 

As ironic as it is, (since my job is to influence their lives) I model my way of living off of my campers. It may sound cliche, but I would absolutely not be the person that I am today without Camp Anchor. I sit here, writing this at my desk, and next to me is my countdown to next summer; only 300 days to go!