Camp 14 Years Later by Jorge Fernandez

Jan 29, 2019

Twenty-four years ago, my family gave me the opportunity to be a camper at Camp Marist. I was fourteen years old and was more nervous than excited about leaving home.

The minute I arrived at camp I knew I was in a special place. I was met by my prefect, Kevin King, and Scottish Giant, Brian O’Neil-who I couldn’t understand a word of due to his accent! That summer my life changed.

After two summers as a camper (’94, ’95), I became CIT (’96), and later a staff member and volunteer (’99, ’00, ’02, ’04). Camp taught me so many incredible things. It helped me improve a second language, taught me new sports, and immersed me in different cultures. It also opened my eyes up to the simplicity of life, gave me the opportunity to befriend people from all parts of the world, and to participate in a variety of activities, that I was not able to do at home.

As my years at camp continued, I learned about responsibility, having obligations at a young age, and the meaning of the word, “trust.” Throughout the years, I have been able to keep in touch with these friends from around the world. And, I can appreciate how unbelievable a summer can be when you are surrounded by nature, riding horses, swimming in a lake.

This year was my return to camp after 14 summers of not being there. I was nervous and excited to show my family the place where I had the “best summers of my life.” It truly was like going back home. Immediately, it felt like a family that was waiting for us. Regina, my wife, and my daughters, Jimena and Lucia, fell in love with camp right away. We had a fantastic week. We swam in the lake, worked at the canteen with Br. Kenneth Robert, went canoeing with the help of Br. Jim Vagan, gave lessons at the stables (and did help with the shoveling), and caught up with friends I haven’t seen in many years.

As a father, I understand now that one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me, was the opportunity to spend those six weeks at camp when I was a teenager. I’m extremely grateful for those years. I look back at those memories and realize they made me who I am today. Thanks to camp, I have a different perspective on life.

This was the first year with my daughters at camp; I am sure I will be there for many more.