Takeaways From Camp Belknap
Leadership, a smaller community, different scenery & different people
Hollering and laughter echoed from the crowd of ten energetic boys chanting “go no cinco, cinco we won’t” with ecstatic repetition. A bundle of cardboard, pool noodles, and duct tape made a valiant attempt to float through the shores of lake Winnipesaukee during the boat race on Fenn’s annual ninth grade fall trip. We cheer our brave pilot Daniel Edelman as he accelerated our boat swiftly through the cardboard-infested waters of Camp Belknap. The paddles vigorously dug through the waters, each stroke executed with precision. As Daniel returned to the shore in one piece, our team encircled him as we clenched the first place prize. Even though we were a small group, together we had achieved something big. I learned the advantages of a small community; I discovered that a change of scenery can transform a person, and I realized you can always be a leader.
Sometimes small is better than big, and on our trip to Camp Belknap for the ninth grade class of 2020’s annually trip I learned this lesson that being small can be better than being big. As the trip went on, it became apparent in many different situations that the composition of the class changed from last year. I had seen Sam Dean talking with Owen O’Malley who I had barely seen talk before. In fact, similarly I found myself talking with Garrett, I always liked him before and was also with him on sports teams, yet I didn’t really know him beyond that. In the smaller class size I strengthened friendships, which in a bigger class I wouldn’t have directed time towards, yet in the smaller class I was gifted the opportunity to do so. After the trip, I feel that I got to know him much better and was really surprised to discover that he is a really funny person. He can make jokes out of anything, and he is also very positive and upbeat in different situations. If it wasn’t for the small class size I might have not seen sides of people which I never knew before. This trip is the beginning of this year’s ninth grade class; it is the start of developing and creating new friendships. Through the different group activities, I learned that there were many things that were noticeably different from last year. In years prior, there may have been someone who was the best athlete or the smartest student, but now those holes will be filled with different faces. With the smaller class size there are more opportunities to prove yourself. Being at camp allowed me to reconnect and strengthen with some of the old friendships I’ve built at Fenn, and the smaller groups enabled me get to know so many of the people whom I had not been friends with or had said little to at all last year. This trip made me realize that sometimes smaller groups can be very beneficial. because the friendships and trust that come from them are unique.
Sometimes you need to go to a new place to see something differently. Camp Belknap also allowed me to see my classmates in a new light. The usual Fenn scenery — the competitive sports teams on the fields, the classrooms full of textbooks, the teenagers fueled with hormones and stress — was transformed in the woods of New Hampshire with flying frisbees and glistening lake water. With the different circumstances, I was able to see new sides of my classmates which I had never seen before. Like Kimball Khetani who I found out is a master out on water with a sailboat and some wind, or Bobby Skrivanek who had proved to me on the rock wall after our long more genuine interactions at Belknap that he had been doing rock climbing outside of school, and is pretty good at it. In the different activities I learned that some of my classmates are really good climbers and others know how to play the harmonica. I saw that behind a focused face there was a lot of energy in a person who I previously remembered simply as quiet. If it wasn’t for Camp Belknap, it’s possible that I might never have seen all the personality traits my classmates had been hiding in the traditional school setting. Belknap had taught me that you can’t say you know someone until you’ve seen them in multiple different lights.
Finally, I realized that by being in the ninth grade, we are the leaders of the school. Being a leader was reinforced by all the leadership exercises that we did at Camp Belknap. While we did some traditional leadership activities, we also were tasked to be leaders in different activities. Like Will Hickey in our cabin who made sure to help keep our cabin clean and was aware to remind us to respect if someone had wanted to sleep while we were talking away the night. Also, in different activities I saw people display leadership in different ways: some could be leaders by being the first to climb the rock wall and pave the way for others to take a chance at it. Others showed leadership by coming up with ideas for the cabin skits and getting others to contribute so that the skits were joint efforts. In all aspects of life at Fenn — not just at Camp Belknap—there are many ways to be leaders. Camp Belknap taught me that even in the simplest of things there is always an opportunity to be a leader.
I learned to learn and see and respect and that has made all the difference.