Emma Ober – Cabin Counselor – Vespers

Hi GK my name is Emma and I have Vespers tonight. Are there any announcements?

Like I said my name is Emma and I have vespers tonight. Today, I want to talk about what is probably the most important decision l’ve made. The decision to get on a plane and fly 5,881 kilometers across the ocean to a place I didn’t know and with people I didn’t know. If you had met me 2 years ago, nobody would believe that I of all people would pack my stuff and leave my home. The Pandemic didn’t leave me unaffected either.  I started withdrawing and not talking anymore. I loved to sit alone in my room and avoided big crowds or to be more specific, people in general. I was that kind of girl you met in the school hallway but didn’t notice because she always kept her eyes on the floor so as not to make eye contact. I was also that kind of girl who would lie in bed at night and couldn’t sleep because she would think about the most unimportant things like why the dog I saw today didn’t wag his tail when I pet him and what I did wrong. That may sound banal to some, but for me it was a big deal. In addition, there was the stress of school since my degree was right around the corner. I spent long nights crying in my school books too tired to think clearly but too awake to sleep. While I was leaning over my school books at 3 am I realized that I wanted a change. I wanted to be the main character in my story and not just a side character. I wanted to be as happy and carefree as I used to be. 

So I started focusing on what I could do after my graduation instead of what I should do, which was studying for my exams. I unlocked my phone and typed in the google browser, “summer job, working with kids, away from Germany.” The only website that kept popping up was an organization called “Camp Leaders.” I read the first few topics on the website and decided that it was exactly what I wanted to do this summer. It took not even 24 hours to apply for the organization. Although I got scared just thinking about flying to another country on my own, I was excited to face my fears at the same time. The days went by and the only thing that I could think about was my summer. I had a million thoughts in my head, “What if I don’t make it? What if my English is too bad? What if no one likes me?” And probably a million more. Until the organization accepted me, from then on I went through a long and stressful process of applying. After, Camp Coniston found my profile and they offered me a job as a camp counselor. We had a few phone calls and I was more than happy to see that I was getting closer to facing this challenge. At that time, I didn’t know that that phone call would flip my life upside down. From then on, I counted down the days I had left before I flew to Boston. The days just went by until the day arrived when my parents dropped me off at the airport. It was the 7th of June when the realization hit me. In that moment, I just felt fear — fear of being alone, fear of leaving home and especially the fear of not being accepted. So I sat down and immediately burst into tears. Everyone at the airport started staring at me, but no one cared enough to talk to me. When they called my gate, I knew that I didn’t have any other choice. The only thing I could do was wipe away my tears and survive the flight. 

The next thing I remember was receiving a ton of messages after the landing saying, “Did you arrive?” or “Let me know when you have your luggage.” It was Ale and Will, the first people who made me feel welcome. They welcomed me warmly and we started talking about anything and everything. We were waiting for another person to arrive, her name is Courtney, you may know her. She ran towards us with all of her luggage and a huge smile on her face. She started talking and didn’t stop. I needed some time to understand what she was saying, but once I figured it, out we had a good conversation. I even slept in her cabin a few nights because none of us wanted to sleep alone. From then on, all my fears were gone. Once we arrived to camp I got to know the others and found that we have a lot in common. We spent so many nights sitting in the dining hall together, talking about everything and nothing. I felt like I would know them forever. I can’t even express how grateful I am for meeting these people who support me in every decision I make, who cheer me up whenever I’m sad and who make my time at camp the most memorable time of my life. We have spent so much time together that we feel like family and not friends anymore. And all of this would have never happened if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone. What I want you to take away from this vespers is that it is totally okay to be scared of something, but never stop trying to face your fears. Stepping out of my comfort zone helped me to open up again and build my confidence. If you never try to face your fears, you’ll never know what you are missing out on, and you may never experience the best time of your life.

So, never forget it’s okay to have fears but facing you fears just makes you stronger. Now, I’m going to play a song.