This story does not start in the summer of 2017, or even in 2017 itself. The groundwork for my senior service project was laid, in fact, in the first month of 2006. Having moved cross-country the summer prior, I was more or less without a niche in this newfound home. In school, I was moderately popular and made some new friends. But once school ended for the summer, my mother assumed correctly, I would be without any real social interaction for months. To correct this impending cataclysmic disaster, I was registered for Ashgrove Adventure Day Camp, a 9-day, 1-night camp run by the Girl Scouts. She even anticipated my almost automatic rejection on the count of isolation; my sisters were also registered and my mom even volunteered to be a leader. I was scared, but one thing was abundantly clear; we were going.
Needless to say, it was an absolute blast. I made ice cream, and crawled through mud, and threw water balloons. I made gimp, made friends, and collected SWAPs to hold onto forever. I had a grand old time. Everyone did, and without much thought, it became a tradition to go as a family. As the years went by, my sisters began to age out of being eligible for camp. Without hesitation, they too began to volunteer as aides just to be able to stay at camp. As I progressed from a Baby Brownie to a Fly-Up to a Junior to a Teen, one thing was clear; I could not imagine summer without Ashgrove. I started volunteering as an aide; at first because I had the time and because I knew I would have fun making camp happen for those who came after me. But my sisters graduated high school, and my mom stopped volunteering, and soon enough, I was the only one going to camp. It didn’t matter, though; camp had started as a family tradition, but over time, all of the aspirational women who helped me grow became my family, and Ashgrove my home. I volunteer at Ashgrove for the same reason I look forward to Thanksgiving; I get to come home.
Ashgrove wasn’t my idea, but it might be the greatest thing that ever happened to me and I want it to keep happening to others, so I volunteer. Volunteering at Ashgrove has taught me many new things, and has helped me mature into a strong adult woman in ways my words will never begin to express.