By Sana Doctor
I remember when my mom came up to me, talking about a camp for activism she had found. She encouraged me to attend. I planned to go with people I know, and I’m active in community service, so I said yes. After I filled out the application, the doubt set in. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go away to camp, but as the time got closer, I started looking forward to the opportunity. When the date arrived, my bags were packed and I was sitting in the back of my grandma’s van on the way to Massachusetts.
I was nervous to leave home and upon arrival, I was still unsure of what to expect. My mom left after a while and I was about to spend a week with sixty-six people I just met. From the YouTube video I watched, I expected us to be like family when it was over. During the rest of the day, I stayed close to the people I knew, got closer to the people in my room, and played a few games with the group to get to know each other better.
That night, we had our Show Off and Tell activity, where people introduced themselves more deeply and shared a personal item from home. That was when I knew YEA Camp would be something I’d enjoy. On the second night, I could already feel the love running through our veins and acceptance in our hearts. YEA Camp was a place where I felt loved for being myself.
Among the many activities that brought us closer, I believe something that provided deep connection with one another was the YEA Camp dance party. And let me tell you, there is no party like a YEA Camp party! Magically, the room radiated feelings of happiness and acceptance. After that, I knew they were my people, my only people, and the people I could lean on. It’s as if I went from feeling anxious of what to expect, then blinked, and started loving every second of every day. But before I knew it, the end of camp arrived and I had to leave my newfound home and the friendly smiles of the people I woke up to.
I’m not one to cry, but I cried through the bittersweet goodbye. I left one of the most loving, caring, and accepting environments I have ever been a part of. YEA Camp became home in a week. I found a love that I didn’t know existed. YEA Camp isn’t just an experience to me, it’s a place of belonging. It’s like something you would see in a movie, with people who love each other immensely in a matter of a week. YEA Camp is a place that I now call home and I’m grateful to have sixty-six new best friends as a part of my family.
Sana Doctor lives in New Jersey. She loves to dance, make jokes, and be happy. Sana’s activism is based upon tutoring younger kids with educational needs.
If you are as passionate about making a difference as Sana is and want to find out more about YEA Camp, check out YEACamp.org.