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We feel so lucky to still stay in touch with Sara Yacoubian. A life-long CRL camper, counselor and now “distinguished alum,” she is currently finding her way in Philadelphia. You can take the girl away from Riva-Lake, but you can’t take Riva-Lake away from the girl. Enjoy her perspective on her camping days now that she is a young adult…..

Camp season is approaching rapidly, and I find myself lamenting the fact that I cannot go to Camp Riva-Lake in any fashion. I recall 2005, my first year, when I cried the majority of the car ride to Winchester and subsequently made my first friend through our mutual lack of desire to be there. But a few days into the first week, I called my mother and begged to stay for the second session. The rest is history.

Sometimes a breeze hits just right, and I think of the humid days in the hills where we baked in the summer heat. I see photos of my camp friends and former campers graduating from high school and college, getting married, having babies, etc. and recall team meetings and events that shaped and later reflected our character. Sometimes one of the many songs will pop into my head, whether a dining hall classic or a vespers favourite. My craving to go back on the water often causes me to consider dropping the city slicker life and living my days out on a lake somewhere that reminds me of my Camp in the Hills. I start to question why I'm here in this concrete jungle instead of the rolling middle Tennessee hills, sipping Sun Drop and hearing the tunes of old evaporate into the air in tandem with cicadas' cries.

Yet, here I am: clinging to those days during which my angsty teenage self would scoff and snicker when directors and alums would reference "letting your hair down" and gazing at picturesque sunsets that kissed the lake; wishing they would come back; and kicking myself for letting them end so abruptly and readily, eager to move on.

When I reflect on this, I laugh at how I have become that person who would encourage the kids to pay attention to the tiny gifts of nature during vespers as they, too, roll their eyes and kick the pebbles beneath their feet. But maybe that transformation is part of staying a Riva Lake Girl.

"Days may part and years may pass, as they often do. But we know we'll come at last - back Riva Lake, to you." #RivaLakeStrong

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