As part of our attempt to keep the entries on the teencamp.com blog a little more diverse and interesting, we will be posting some thoughts on camp from guest writers, mostly camp alumni - campers and staff alike.
Today's guest, Max Jahn - MTC Camper '96 - '98, MTC Staff '02, MIT Sloan MBA Class of 2011. As staff Max taught soccer, running, and Viennese Charm (the seed from which grew MIT Sloan's Joie de Vivre club).....
"When I was 14 years old, my parents sent me off to summer camp. I left my family in Austria and knew I would only see them eight weeks later, after a full summer at the Maine Teen Camp. I was not scared or afraid stepping on the plane but curious to venture into the unknown. I had followed the ascent of the Chicago Bulls and enjoyed the occasional chicken McNuggets at McD’s and now would finally get a chance to explore the New World.
Eight weeks later when I returned my parents picked me up from the airport, happy to see me. I was in tears. What happened? Tears of joy, triggered by overwhelming happiness to see my parents again? Well, while I get along very well with my parents and love them exuberantly, those were no tears of joy. They were tears of sadness. I had left “paradise” and was now back in the real world.
My time at camp had been the best time of my life. I am an athlete and started my days with a lakeswim across the lake before the breakfast bell officially announced the day. Between breakfast and dinner I took lessons in tennis, soccer, basketball, was instructed in photography and martial arts. Heavenly! The skills I learned in the classes were great but not what made camp special. What took it to a new level and turned camp into an important life lesson was that I came to a new continent, without knowing anyone, barely speaking the language. I had to start from scratch. It didn’t take long however for me to make new friends from around the world and to discover that my personality and style allowed me to quickly adapt to new environments. To see and experience the shared values of children from around the world was uplifting and special. The dances, treasure hunts, casino nights, open air movie nights, concerts…were all exuberant and 15 years later are still very much alive in my memory. I also learned to speak English and picked up enough Italian and French to give my mother a headache from singing Italian football songs back home.
Camp is also about the appreciation of diversity and inclusion. Diversity of nationalities, personalities and interests. What unites the athletes, musicians, artists and those that just want to have a chill summer, is a deep love for life, laughs and exploring different interests and passions. I returned to camp for 2 more summers and later as a counselor.
Camp has given me a confidence to deal with new situations that I would not have had otherwise, in all aspects of life. When I face a challenge or am down, I think of my magical childhood summers, which – in large part thanks to the Maine Teen Camp and the people that make it special – have been a source of endless energy, inspiration and happiness."