Do you have a happy place?
A spot on this earth where you feel most at peace, or joyful, or zen, or brimming with glee?
Where you feel most like you?
At the moment, I have a few:
In my kiddos’ arms,
With my head on Kenny’s shoulder,
St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands,
and, Haverford College.
For years, I would visit Haverford College, alone and with loved ones, when happy or when sad, because it was my happy place, and, in many ways, it felt like home.
Having grown up not even 10 minutes away from the campus, I have always marveled at its profound beauty. I walked through the pinetum, and could trace every step; I stood at the top of the hill overlooking the duck pond and saw textured layers of grass, and plants, and trees, that made it look like a painting; I jogged over the wooden bridge, and branches, and rocks, because if I could jog anywhere it would be at my happy place; I waddled through the campus with a train of a dozen children behind me, quacking and singing.
I know that Haverford College is my happy place for many reasons, and I know that one of the most prominent reasons is because of my time there as a camper at the Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs.
My time at the JKCP programs gave me so many gifts, both tangible and intangible, and though I could list many, there are some that I cannot even put into words. Finding music in a way that allowed me to work one-on-one with a Broadway singer/actress changed my life. It was an exploration (Xploration!) of more than just my potential talents. Rather, it was an exploration of my soul. I still know every word to the songs that Jolene taught me; I am still friends with many of my bunkmates from that time; I still know that music has an irreplaceable spot in my heart, right along with JKCP.
Recently, my mommom gave me an album in which she has saved all of my old programs, and playbills, and newspaper clippings, and graduation proceedings. When I saw this, I immediately snapped a picture and emailed it to my friends at JKCP, because, I mean…
It was four years ago when I shared this post about what summer camp is, for me. It details my experience with the Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs, and trust me, that experience (as a camper, counselor, and then, ultimately, director) is vast! So many of the relationships that I made during my last summer season at the Haverford College Xploration program are still going strong, today. My campers and I still follow each other on social media, and it is amazing to see how they have matured into fine, GROWN UP people (while I have not aged a day!). My assistant teacher, Big Jack, is also still in my life, as he introduced me to someone very important in his life, and she became very important in my family’s life. The owners, and staff members, and directors greet me with hugs, and kisses, and praise, and warmth. There is something magical about relationships made under the Haverford College tree canopies; they just stick.
There are so many JKCP programs, from tennis for children starting at age 5, to summer programs like “Pediatric Medicine at CHOP” for campers up to age 18, so there truly is something for everyone.
Most recently, I got to experience the Xploration Program at my happy place, and I will tell you that while they have made so many advancements, the heart and soul of the program has stayed the same. JKCP encourages and fosters growth in their campers, while simultaneously providing them with so many fun activities, every single day, that it makes the process of making friends, especially at an age that can be tough (think 10-13 year olds), feel natural and easy. The Xploration program can be a day camp, or an overnight, residential experience, and it is offered on a weekly basis, giving parents and kids the most flexibility. This summer at Xploration, campers can participate in classes (two different sessions a day!) ranging from cooking to DJ, app development to hovercraft, studio art to soccer. And, of course, tennis. By night, they have dance parties, movie trips, walks to the local ice cream shops, and more activities than I can name.
It becomes a happy place for everyone. I see the same staff members returning, from places all over the world, year after year. I see friendships that are beautiful to behold, and feel quite confident that they will be lasting, because I was one of those campers.
I was the middle school kid who had a hard time leaving home for an entire summer, and then found a home at my local camp. I was the trepidatious rising 9th grader who had just gotten braces, blasted Rent on my drive from my home to Haverford, and knew no one. I was someone who could have felt like an outsider, but was made to feel exactly the opposite, able to accomplish feats that I never believed I would or could. I am the adult who still keeps in touch with my friends from camp, so many years later, as we continue to cheer each other on, now as mothers, and professionals, and (alleged) grownups.
I found so much, thanks to my time at JKCP, from skills, to passions, to people.
I also found my happy place.
As they sing in the beautiful, climactic song in Wicked, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
But unlike in that song, I know that Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs have changed me for good AND for good.
I am changed forever, and I am changed for the better.
23 years ago I found my summer home, and an evergreen second family, and I feel so fortunate to have experienced that magic.
And, because I am all about spreading the magic, as is the JKCP family, as a Mommy, Ever After reader, you can receive $50 off of your tuition to the Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs by signing up online RIGHT HERE!!!
Here’s to you finding your happy place, music, friendship, confidence, magic, fun,
This post was written in partnership with the Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs. All opinions are, as always, 100% honest and my own.