I Met People Who Changed My Life

Editor’s note: This week’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Tessa, a camper at YPI 2013.

When people say “YPI is not just a place, it’s a state of mind” it may sound cheesy at first. Really cheesy — like roll-your-eyes-at cheesy — but it’s not. And it’s not cheesy to believe in it, because I do.

And when I say YPI changed my life, I’m not exaggerating.

My first year at YPI, I was 14, about to be a freshman in high school, and terrified to be completely surrounded by new people for the first time in my life since second grade. I was really afraid of the people I thought I’d meet. Tall, thin, blonde girls who whispered behind your back and smiled to your face.

Camp Life YPI 2013
“I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.”
-Tessa, camper

Don’t get me wrong, I met tall, thin, blonde girls, but I didn’t meet a single person who treated me like that. I instead met people who changed my life.

I remember so vividly my first Purge and Burn. I remember just writing words and feelings onto the stick, because I didn’t know what else to do. I’d stood up to throw my piece of wood in the fire and I came to sit back down, I was crying more than I had before.

I remember sitting down next to a girl who I’d only noticed, never spoke to, she was maybe 4 years older than me, and had obviously been to the camp before, she was always surrounded by a crowd of older kids. I sat down next to her, and she put her arms around me, and held onto me while I cried. And I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.

And I didn’t speak to her at all, I hope I said thank you at least, but I’m not sure. And the next day, we didn’t say anything, and I didn’t tell anyone about it. It was a secret, something special between me and a girl whose name I didn’t know.

She left after that year, she got too old, but two years later she was my counselor. I never brought it up with her. A girl who held a complete stranger in her arms, and I never forgot that. Those are the kinds of people you meet at YPI: people who ache and feel for others, people who will hold a 14 year old girl while they cry, and never get thanked for it.

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