I have never thought of myself as either mature or immature. When I see underclassmen gossiping throughout the school, or making childish jokes to one another, I feel like the word mature is branded on my forehead. When I look in the other direction, I see students who seem to already know what they are doing with their life, and I feel like I should be back gossiping with the underclassmen. I guess that would put me right in the middle. Some people come back from mission trips to Africa, claiming that it matured them, changed their life, or made them better people. I am not like those people.
I guess if any one life event could mature me, it would be the summer of 2009. I had just completed eighth grade and was terrified of high school. All I had was two and a half months separating me from what I thought was sudden death. I got a letter in the mail from camp O-AT-KA, an all boys summer camp that I had attended the last five years before that. I normally went for one week out of the summer because that was the week they offered to boys from Maine for free. When I opened the letter, I was expecting to see the normal health form and item checklist I was used to seeing, but this letter was different. The camp had invited me to attended a full semester (half of the summer) instead of the usual one week on full scholarship. I didn't have to think long about it, and next thing I knew I was off to summer camp for half of my vacation.
Upon my arrival to the camp, I realized things were different. The kids who attended the camp were from all over the world. There were kids from parts of Europe, Asia, South America, and even Australia. I had always been used to seeing kids from different parts of Maine, not different parts of the world. Another thing that was different about these kids was that they were all very wealthy. That was a big difference, because every one who attended the free week was from a low income family. I could already tell this year was going to be different.
The camp started off early morning. 6:00 to be exact. I was surprised that we were up that early, because normally camp started at 8:00. That was one of many changes. The camp was just like school. Instead of going swimming whenever you wanted or play frisbee all day like I was used to, I found myself signing up for classes like woodworking and music. Every day was so different than what I was used to. I ended up earning "camp credit" from doing jobs around the camp that were similar to community service. Every camper was given "book credits" they could use at the camp store or the book fair. We were taught to trade in our "camp credit" for everything from toiletries and clothing to candy and magazines.
It took some time to get used to the way of life at camp O-AT-KA, but I eventually adapted. Before I knew it, I was acting like an adult, and I didn't even realize it. My parents were shocked on the parent visit day when they saw me with my tucked in polo shirt, and even more surprised when I asked if they would take me to get my hair cut.
Maturity isn't something that just happens overnight, it takes time. You can't expect something to make you more mature. I was expecting to have a summer of lounging around the lake, instead I learned many skills I will remember and value for the rest of my life.