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Camp Wildwood 2017 | South Carolina Wild

Photos courtesy Dan DuPre

Amanda Cromer writes about her experiences at Camp Wildwood 2017:

This year’s Camp Wildwood started off with a little rain and some nervous faces. As campers gathered together in their niches to begin getting to know these strangers who were really friends they just hadn’t met yet, the nerves gave way to interest and exploration.

The campers were introduced to a curriculum focusing on our natural resources through classes such as Fisheries, Wildlife, Hunter’s Education and Forestry. While learning about what the great state of South Carolina has to offer, something wonderful was happening in the hills of Kings Mountain State Park. Campers were stepping out of their comfort zones and trying things they never believed they would have attempted. They were also fostering the growth of a family through all of the other campers and all of the counselors and staff.

In addition to the classes, campers were able to grow both themselves and the relationships around them through group sports, niche time, and crazy night time activities. Campers pushed their boundaries with rainy hikes through the woods, tournament kickball, dance parties, Wildwood’s Got Talent performances, skits, and most importantly, acceptance. Several of these campers arrived with trepidation, but over the course of the week, these are the same campers that caught their first fish, shot their first shotgun, or told strangers their story. The best part about this year’s Camp Wildwood experience is that everyone left being a part of something bigger, part of a family, loving not only our great state more, but loving each other more.

Paige Robinson, now a Camp Wildwood camp counselor, had this to say about camp when she was a fourteen-year-old camp participant just a couple of years ago.

Paige Robinson (right)

“I recently discovered a wise saying from the mouth of Benjamin Franklin stating, ‘Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.’ Over the rapid seconds of the past week [at Camp Wildwood] I feel as if at all possible I have conquered both. The words of the story are in motion, but the story itself has developed into a memory that will forever be treasured and never be forgotten.

In all honesty, feelings of my departure from home weren’t overflowing with eagerness; however, they consisted of fear and doubt, fear of the unknown and uncertainty of how this week would unfold. Upon arrival at this destination it didn’t take long to realize that I have reached yet another home. The possessions I dreaded leaving behind were all there; not duplicates, but yet the origin of a new family, unconditional love, and myself.

Don’t dread the passage ahead, live for the indefinite, and fall in love with your life…

I did not leave as the same individual that arrived, I found myself; my confidence. It brought forth a mirror and revealed my reflection and potential. Under every pair of wandering shoes, inside of every treasured heart, and behind the depth of every pair of radiant eyes, there was a story.

An onlooker passing by this indescribable portion of land would possibly only remember it as a random fraction of soil. However, after spending a week trudging upon that soil, falling in love with the individuals that shared the compassion, and letting go of the qualms that were holding me back; I realized that this random piece of land has a purpose, a meaning, and a desire to become someone’s home.

This fascination of leaving behind my place of security delivered fear of the unknown.

In the same likeness, the souls that randomly drifted to this land have an indivisible tie, a tie of meaning and purpose in this broad world. The land and the beings that composed of its space illustrated the truth of every entity’s purpose and developed inside each heart the unfailing fact of family and love. Though our hearts and paths guided in diverse directions at the final hour, there is and forever will be an invisible yet beyond fervent and genuine bond that holds our hearts closely together. I once stumbled upon the intimidating words stating, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.’ This fascination of leaving behind my place of security delivered fear of the unknown. This fear of the unknown led me to individuals I never knew I could survive without, my passion, and my home.

This camp conveyed the knowledge to never restrain the reality of your personality, and never doubt the anonymous; for that doubt could possibly be the exact essence you require for survival. Fear is only present if you allow it to enter. Don’t dread the passage ahead, live for the indefinite, and fall in love with your life and being as you begin to let go of the misgivings; pulling up your anchor, and setting sail for the broad mysteries waiting for your arrival…”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.