When I was twelve years old my parents dropped me off at my first sleep-away summer camp, International Sports Training Camp in Stroudsburg, PA. Although I was nervous, I was greeted with warm welcomes, strange accents, and an experience that would come to shape the rest of my life. I returned as a camper for three more years after that summer, and every week at camp was the best of my life. The facilities were beautiful and the games were fun, but the reason I returned was because of the staff.
ISTC employs people from as many as fifteen different countries in a summer and there are no words to describe what an amazing opportunity it is for a child to be surrounded by different cultures and different perspectives. Growing up in camp, I learned more and more from my coaches from Australian, counselors from Ireland, canteen workers from Slovakia, and even food service staff from Mexico. I learned about other parts of the world in a way that no geography class in high school could teach me. It was the international staff members that made camp such a special experience, unlike anywhere I had ever been before. These people allowed me to have such a great camp experience that I never wanted to leave… which is why I am still here ten years after my first day at camp, now as a staff member myself.
I have been working here for the past six years and still feel honored to be able to gain all that I am from the people of this camp. Just last night I was practicing my French and learning some Polish, which I now know is one of the hardest languages in the world. The people I have met here have opened my eyes to all that the rest of the world has to offer. Their courage and adventurousness to leave their homes and spend months working in America has inspired me to make it a point to get outside of my comfort zone and travel as well. From just recently taking a three week tour of eastern Europe to soon be spending three months studying in Morocco, I have witnessed the benefits of travel first-hand and will forever strive to immerse myself in the diversity of the world.
There is no doubt in my mind that my journey within the camp grounds at International Sports Training Camp have bettered me as a person, and will forever influence my future. This would not have happened without the opportunity to meet, befriend, and learn from the hundreds of international staff members that have been a part of my life for the past ten years. They are what makes this camp special, what takes it from a simple summer camp to a life changing experience, and what has been the single most positive influence in my life.