Juniors Elizabeth Tzagournis, Allee Overmyer, Marky Dieker and Bonnie Igel pose for a photo during camp. Applications to be a camp counselor are available in spring 2012.

By Elizabeth Tzagournis

We all remember our experiences at Camp Oty’ Okwa as sixth grade students: taking long hikes in the forest, eating home-cooked meals served family style and preparing our cabin’s skit for the bonfiire on the last night. For most former campers, there are only fond memories of the time spent in Hocking Hills. I recently had the opportunity to revisit Sixth Grade Camp as a counselor and experience again many of those memories.

There was the crunch of wet leaves underfoot and the damp, earthy air you can only find deep in the woods. Nature was living and breathing all around me. There was no cell phones or Facebook in sight.The majority of the day I had no idea what time it was, and I loved it.

The trip in its entirety was quite enjoyable, but that’s not to say there weren’t any challenges. Though I would consider myself highly capable in most aspects of camping, I did experience an unforeseen problem: the bugs.

They were everywhere. Crawling up my legs, biting me in my sleep, and scurrying across the ground. There was no getting away from nature’s array of monsters. I am pretty sure a spider convention was being held in our cabin.

Though I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to bugs, I tried not to let it stop me from enjoying my time at camp and helping my sixth grade kids do the same.

Other than the freakish creepy crawlies, camp was generally smooth sailing. The general attitude of both counselors and campers alike was of fun and friendship. This was especially evident at the camp hoedown on our first night.

Now, one more thing about me: I’m not a dancer. But at this hoedown, you would have thought I was Beyonce. All the counselors were wildly dancing to the infectious music, pulling shy clusters of kids off the walls and onto the dance floors.

Whatever we did, we did together as a group. That’s what made friendships and forged bonds, turning Sixth Grade Camp into something more than just a few days of hiking in the woods. A meandering stroll through Hidden Cave or a vigorous ascent up Backbreaker Hill would not be the same without the people I was with—the other counselors, the kids, even the teachers. Even though my workload upon return was high, and I didn’t see the light of day for the majority of the following weekend, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.