When I Think, “Summer”

By Orthman Community YMCA
Family & Youth Program Director Amber Holbrook

Backyard barbecues, lake days, sunshine, laughter, flip-flops, and sun-kissed skin. These are all things that come to mind when I think, “summer.”

As a kid, summer means school’s out and days are spent soaking up the sun with friends in the backyard or on day-long trips to the pool. For me, summer also meant one of the best parts of the year; my birthday. When July rolled around, it was all fireworks and birthday celebrations for my family. Besides the annual birthday pool party, my childhood summer days were filled with softball games, staying outside till the sun went down, and family trips to the lakeside cabin. But the highlight of every summer was attending church summer camps.

As you grow up, childhood summer memories fade and are replaced with a new kind of summer bliss. Even though my family still takes an annual trip to the lakeside cabin, the lazy summer days of my childhood are no more. As an adult, summer looks like filling my days with work and church functions and still trying to soak up as much sun as possible. Now, instead of attending summer camps, I get the joy of directing one.

My new favorite part of summer is the four days I spend directing the YMCA Adventure Camp alongside YMCA staff and volunteers. Adventure Camp is an action-packed couple of days where summertime memories are made with new and old friends. Campers spend their time outside, building tents, swimming in the lake, horseback riding, and participating in scavenger hunts and nature walks. While playing games and making crafts, campers also learn what it means to be a team player who is honest, respectful, caring, and responsible.

For all that Adventure Camp means to the campers, I’d venture to say it means even more to those who help lead it. The joy and fulfillment of seeing a smiling camper retelling stories to their parents are almost better than my own summer camp memories. Being an Adventure Camp leader is more than spending a few days overseeing activities for a couple dozen campers. It’s about being a small part of the summertime memories being built by each and every camper.

Even if it looks different as an adult, summer still holds a special place in my heart. So now, when I think “summer,” I not only think of barbecues and lazy summer days in the sun. I also think of YMCA Adventure Camp and the lifelong memories I have and know are being created for generations to come.

So tell me, when you hear “summer,” what do you think of?

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