Written by Taleigh Adrian, original article can be found here.

I recently attended the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia. The camp is comprised of two delegates from each state, as well as international delegates, and is 3 and a half weeks filled with scientific lectures, group studies, outdoor activities and fun. I wanted to share my reflections about the experience.

National Youth Science Camp. Four words that I had never imagined would be strung together, and four words that, when I googled them, a lack of search results almost convinced me that they were a scam. Regardless, I applied and, as they say, the rest is history.

People also say that you don’t truly appreciate what you have until you lose it. After camp ended, I lost the unique experience of camp – no longer did I wake up bright and early to the Rhododendron Song to prepare for a day full of lectures, laughs, group projects, more laughs and activities that differed wildly day to day. And yes, I did miss it. But I also grew to appreciate camp more, because I realized how blissfully happy I had been during that time at Camp Pocahontas. The thing is, though, that there’s something that you don’t get told: You never truly lose everything. I’ll always have the memories, the lessons I learned and, most importantly, the friends I made.

Since camp ended, I have been having trouble trying to explain how camp changed me, as well as what it, and the people there, came to mean to me.

But at this point, I’ve come to accept that I don’t have all the perfect words to describe camp. And maybe that’s OK – because part of the magic of camp lies in its inability to be defined. Maybe that makes it fitting that I still find myself unable to define the full effect that it had on me. The best way I can think to describe it is that camp felt like mine. The people felt like my people and camp turned into home.

From the moment I stepped into the Dulles Airport, to the countless neuroscience lectures, watching a sunset after hiking all day, snacks at night while talking about anything and everything, card games at every opportunity, modifying bacteria DNA, swimming under the stars in the river, exploring DC, crying and saying goodbyes as I again stepped into the Dulles Airport, and every single moment in between – camp was one of the best experiences of my life.

Taleigh Adrian

South Dakota, NYSCamp 2019