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Camp Up With People

December 12, 2013

A few years ago, when I was fifteen, I had one of the best experiences of my life. Oh,… Actually, at the beginning it wasn’t at all:

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It was in June 2011, I left Paris for three weeks with my twin sister and a friend, ready to go to my first summer camp ! It took place in North Virginia in the USA and we were actually quite worried about what it would look like. We didn’t have much information about this camp insofar as it opened for the very first session that year.

When we arrived after long hours on the plane and bus, we realized that it was not what we expected at all. We imagined big lakes, lots of people of all ages, wooden bungalows and I have to admit that we were quite disappointed by the reality… There were only three main buildings and we were 19 girls and 3 boys ! Moreover, they told us that we had only two weeks to create a big show that we would perform in front of three hundred people… What freaking news ! We weren’t aware of that and we didn’t know that we would have to learn how to sing perfectly more than 10 different songs and a lot of choregraphies. The first week was really harsh morally but also physically speaking because the activities were demanding and we had to speak English all day long. Furthermore, we didn’t have time to rest except after dinner sometimes and it was really stressful because we knew we had a deadline to respect. Every night, before going to bed, we gathered into a big circle, holding hands and singing that we were all “brothers and sisters”. Quite weird, isn’t it?

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Though, things quicklychanged when we got to know each other. We actually realized that it wasn’t just a performing arts camp, but also an opportunity to open up and learn more about who we were and who we wanted to be in the future. Thanks to an amazing staff, we had occasions to talk about our feelings, our lives, listen to the others but also be listened by them. I learned so many things about myself and didn’t expect to know people as I did in only three weeks. At the end, we finally became like brothers and sisters, united on stage as well as outside, knowing the most personal details of the life of everyone. This unity within the group helped us to disregard our stage fright before performing for the big shows in town and I’m sure that the public could feel it. I sang for the first time on stage in duo with my twin sister and I experienced a rush of adrenaline, as if we could fly away for one moment. If I made it, it is only thanks to the great training we had.

This camp is actually well-known in the areas of leadership, cultural awareness and service learning. Thus, we did community service such as repainting a retirement home, helping in the fields to harvest but we also went to Washington for a week-end to discover the regional culture, staying in host families. We had the opportunity to go to the American biggest Via Ferrata and to live in the woods for one week-end in the middle of nature, surrounded by snakes and big campfires. All of those activities were challenges which made us go beyond our limits all the time. And this is precisely the goal of Up with people, which is at first an association which offers young people the opportunity  to travel all around the world to perform on stage and spread a little bit of happiness to people who need it. It is also a way to discover new countries, new cultures, to meet friends for life but also amazing people within the host families where you stay. The most important mottos of this organisation are “We are many, we are one” and “Bringing the world together” and I think they are very illustrative of its goal. We are actually still keeping in touch sometimes with the other campers and the staff and I know that if one day I want to go somewhere, I’ll be able to stay at their house as if we had never left each other.

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In a word, I can say that  Up with people is an adventure of friendship and learning you never forget.

Manon F.

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