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The Chronicles of a Camp Hopper

In her fifth summer at 6 Points Sports Academy, counselor, Ayla Kaufman, shares what it was like to grow up going to many different camps, and why she has returned to 6 Points many more years than she could have imagined.

“Sam Shabsin, Gina Salemi, Ellie Buckner,” the names continued, but mine was never called. One by one, all of my best friends, the ones who had been with me since the inaugural summer of Six Points Sports Academy, stepped forward to receive their five-year sweatshirts. I was jealous, left out, and any sort of pride I should have felt for my friends’ longevity at camp had evaporated.

I was a camper in 2010 – a proud Eilat Eagle from Raleigh, North Carolina, who had decided to gamble away my precious summer weeks on a brand new camp in Greensboro, only seventy kids strong, called Six Points Sports Academy. I was here in the very beginning, so why was I left sitting in the bleachers five years later instead of proudly donning a new Six Points sweatshirt with a bolded “5” on the back?

I’m a camp hopper.

Many would define a ‘camp hopper’ as one who perpetually enrolls in camp after camp instead of valuing the benefits of a long ‘camp life’ or being unable to remain loyal to just one camp community. However, I wholeheartedly disagree. A camp hopper is a young girl named Ayla, who cares deeply about every friendship formed and fun time had, but at the end of camp, returns home and says “Mom, can I try something new and different next summer? I want to see what’s out there.”

So with my appreciation for ‘camp hopping’ and chronic ‘camp wanderlust,’ how did I get here- a counselor in 2016, settled down at Six Points, and ready to proudly wear the coveted sweatshirt?

My journey started at Camp Barney Medintz, a Jewish camp outside of Atlanta, which I was very happily shipped off to during summer before fifth grade. I was there for a month and loved every minute. When asked if I wanted to go back, I replied with a simple “no, thank you” but one thing was for certain, I was hooked on sleep-away camp. I have been lucky enough to dabble in sleep-away camps of all kind: girl-scout, choral, leadership development and even language immersion. I have loved each summer but I am so grateful that this exact ‘camp wanderlust’ brought me to Six Points to begin with.

I cannot, in good conscience, say that the community at Six Points is simply better than a community at another camp. I cannot say that the incredible friendships I’ve forged here are somehow more valuable than those from elsewhere but here is what I can say:

Six Points is where I feel I can make the largest impact on my campers, my fellow counselors, and the camp community as a whole. This place is new. Although we have traditions, there is still room for each person to bring his or her experiences, passions and ideas to help shape the place we love, our summer home, into a place others will love for years to come. Being part of what I have called ‘community construction’ is a rare opportunity and I decided to seize the challenge and make the most of it.

So, yes, I can confidently say that there are plenty of places that can become your, or your child’s summer home – but if you want to be part of something special that might not come around again anytime soon, I would get involved in what’s happening at Six Points Sports Academy and take that first step toward your very own five-year sweatshirt.

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