I'm not usually the type of person who loves long road trips, but spending ten days on a bus with my closest friends traveling the East Coast is an exception.
This summer was my last year as a camper at the sleep-away camp I've gone to for the past seven summers. Part of the culminating eight-week experience is a ten-day bus trip with everyone in our age group. We went everywhere from D.C. to the Philadelphia Rock Gym to Virginia Beach, making countless stops to sightsee, visit museums, shop, and have a great time with each other.
I'd been to a few of the places before with other groups, but this trip was completely different. I noticed it most at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., which I visited in seventh grade during a trip to D.C. with my school. This time, I was there with a group of 61 other Jewish teens who I've grown up with at a Jewish sleep-away camp. It really was a moving experience, especially because, after all, we are exactly what the Nazis had tried to wipe off the face of the planet.
While in D.C., we also had the rare opportunity to go onto the House floor, into the very room where the President gives the State of the Union address. (Side note: it looks bigger on TV) Two of the girls in my age group are the twin daughters of a Congressman, who made special arrangements to get us onto the House floor. It was really exciting to be in a room where so many major decisions are made!
On another day, we went to see the Liberty Bell and ended up starting an unintentional flash-mob. A few of us started dancing to music playing from a presentation that was setting up outside, and by the time we left, nearly everyone in our age group was up and dancing, as well as some passers-by who joined in! Who would have thought we would end up dancing on the grass in front of the Liberty Bell as onlookers snapped pictures of us?
The whole trip was amazing, and all the memories I made with my camp friends will last me a lifetime. Being with my friends in camp is one thing, but having the chance to be out in the "real world" with them made our friendships so much stronger. Camp is a very secluded environment with no cell phones, no computers, and no TV, and even though great relationships form there, it takes some time spent outside camp to really solidify those bonds.
Even with all the places we went and museums we visited, the most important thing I learned was not in any exhibit. I learned that the best memories often come from the littler things, and how much fun true friendship is. I hope I stay friends with these people for a long time to come, and to make many more memories with them over the years.