Libby Foley – Camp Fellow – Vespers

Hi GK! My name is Libby and I have vespers tonight. Are there any announcements? 

Alright, well as I said my name is Libby, and I have vespers tonight. And today I want to tell you all the story of a girl. 

This is the story of a girl who wore a yellow headband to school everyday, read a chapter of a book each night before bed, and was obsessed with rainbow sprinkles. This girl loved vanilla ice cream with gummy bears, raisin bran cereal, and was probably born in the wrong generation.

I say all of these things because that girl was me. And as wonderful as all of these things were, and as fortunate as I feel to have had an incredible childhood, the one thing that I really struggled with when I was younger was talking to other people.

It’s kind of ironic to say it out loud right now, considering that many people in this circle view me as an open book – I pretty much share anything and everything about myself.

But for the longest time, I had an extremely difficult time sharing how I was feeling with other people or asking for help. If I was sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, I didn’t turn to anyone, but always remained completely quiet and sat with the feelings on my own. Talking to teachers or adults in any capacity always stressed me out, and my parents were usually the last people to know if I was upset. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to any of these people, but was afraid about what talking with them would result in. I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone, and was worried that talking to other people would make things worse. Letting anyone know that I needed help was always a last resort in my mind.

Inevitably, all of this began to take its toll. I started to become even more closed off from the people around me and eventually developed intense anxiety. I remember my parents were absolutely perplexed about finding a way to get me to open up. Luckily for me, all of that changed in August 2011, when my Dad’s Acura turned the corner around main camp road for the first time.

Living in such close quarters with people who spoke openly about emotions, friendship, and life made me realize that it was okay to come forward when I was feeling upset or anxious. As mundane as it sounds, sharing highs and lows each night allowed me to build sharing my emotions into my routine. My counselors would walk up to me during free times and ask how I was feeling. My first bunkmate asked me to tell her about my day at night when she needed help falling asleep.

This open and accepting environment that I was lucky enough to have been raised in is the sole reason why I am the open, honest, and vulnerable version of myself today. It wasn’t until I came to camp that I realized that asking for help is not a sign of weakness or something to be afraid of, but instead is a sign of strength.

Asking for help and being honest and open with those around you means that you’re strong enough to admit that you don’t have all of the answers – because honestly GK, nobody does. Asking for help means that you’re willing to lean into the discomfort that so often comes with uncomfortable emotions like fear, anxiety, and embarrassment. Asking for help means that you’re willing to challenge yourself and hopefully grow along the way.

I’ve been able to form some of the deepest and most meaningful relationships of my life when I’ve been open and honest with the people around me. The friendships that I have with people from camp are the ones I cherish the most because of our ability to call on one another when we need it and support one another through every high and every low. I feel so lucky that camp taught me to feel comfortable enough to ask for help – because it’s provided me with a group of people who I know will be in my life forever.

So, GK, here is my advice for you: as daunting as it may seem, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Share how you’re feeling when someone asks – I promise it’s incredibly relieving. Check in on the people around you on the rainy days and the sunny ones. Don’t ever feel pressured to carry too much on your plate by yourself – there are always a few extra hands to help if you find the courage to step up and ask. I hope you know that you are all incredibly beautiful, wonderful, and loved, and that you shouldn’t ever feel like you’re completely alone – especially when you’re in a place as magical as this one.

Now I’m gonna play a little song. I think it captures what it feels like to be honest with the people around you, and this song makes me think about a lot of my friends here.