Almost 18 and Still Going to Summer Camp


courtesy of Jena Myers

Seniors Jena Myers (left) and Olivia Rutigliano (right) pose for a picture for one of the last times at ISTC.

Emily Chu, Op-Ed Editor

Most summer camp experiences are somewhat lukewarm—bittersweet even—comprised of nostalgic days of childhood fun at some day camp in the woods: a place for parents to dump their kids while school is out. Common themes include awkward friendships, sweaty prepubescent children, and mosquito bites that seem to come out of nowhere. 

“I usually get met with laughs, but I don’t really care because it’s somewhere I grew up at and look forward to coming back to each year,” senior Olivia Rutigliano said in response to telling people she still goes to a sleep away summer camp.

While most people’s camp memories seem to taper off as they grow out of their childhood interests into more “mature” teenage interests during the summer, for seniors Rutigliano and Jena Myers, their love of camp has yet to fade. 

Rutigliano and Myers have been going to the International Sports Training Camp (ISTC) for eight consecutive summers. ISTC is similar to other sleep away camps in terms of that log cabin, summer camp bonding feeling, but it differs in many other aspects. As its name suggests, the camp consists of a mainly foreign staff as well as campers from all over the US and abroad. With its own lake and amenities such as rock climbing, jet skiing, and high ropes, the high cost of camp has yet to deter Rutigliano and Myers. 

In 2012, the two girls began their first year of camp. For Myers, the camp initially just started out as a fun summer experience to make friends.

“It was better than being bored, sitting around at home,” Myers said.

While at first the camp was just a cure for boredom, for both Myers and Rutigliano, the camp became the place they grew up in, and the people there, who they’ve now known for eight years, have become a second family. There, Myers learned to step out of her comfort zone by trying new foods, socializing with campers of all ages, as well as facing her fear of heights at high ropes. For Rutigliano, she learned to appreciate the diversity of campers and staff, meeting and making friends with people from Spain to Australia. 

For the two of them, the camp clearly holds a special place in their hearts.

“We [Myers and Rutigliano] actually met the year we started going, and the following years we started to go together,” Rutigliano said, “The camp is what solidified our friendship throughout the years.” 

Sadly, this year the two officially aged out, making this past summer their last experience at ISTC as a camper. However, their camp days have yet to end here. Both have applied to become Counselors In Training for the following summer, and hope to eventually secure a job there at the summer escape they’ve come to love. 

“I wanted to become a CIT [Counselor In Training] because I want to be able to give kids the same experience I had,” Myers said. “Now that I’ve aged out, I want to be the one to help other younger kids step out of their own comfort zone and make their own camp memories.”