As a seasoned California summer camps veteran, I get questioned frequently about my journey through years of summer camp life. A few summers into my camp life, a friend asked, “Haven’t you already done camp? Why do you want to go back again?” With such a simple question, I was immediately filled with an overwhelming wave of emotion and a desire to explain something that, to me, was so obvious. And with that question, I was taken on a trip down camp memory lane. That first summer of camp was so novel and new- each day brought a plethora of wild and exciting things to explore. The days passed so quickly that it felt like it was over in the blink of an eye. After that summer, I’d had a taste for camp and I thirsted to go back and get another chance to experience it all over again. But with each passing summer, the question of why I return to camp became more and more complicated. Camp became something I looked forward to all year and going to camp seemed so natural that it no longer even felt like a decision- I just knew that I had to return to camp. But over the years, I’ve had the chance to think through how camp has become such a critical part of my life and some of the many reasons that I choose to go back each year. I return to camp because camp friends really are some of the best friends out there. As crazy as it seems, you might start a session of camp with a cabin full of strangers, but you’ll leave with lifelong friends. Camp has an unmatched way of bringing people together and creating the strongest of bonds. I return to camp because of the amazing activities and experiences. No matter what mood you’re in, there is always something exciting going on and a new adventure to seek out. Where else can you go tubing and scale the rock wall at the ropes course all in a day? There truly is never a dull moment at summer camp life. I return to camp because camp spirit brings out the best in me. Camp is a place where I can be myself in all of its wild and crazy glory. I can slosh around in mud or sing at the top of my lungs and just enjoy being who I am. I return to camp because I wholeheartedly believe that s’mores should be their very own food group. I return to camp because just thinking about camp is guaranteed to make me smile. The culture of camp brings me joy all year long, and even the longest of days can be cured by thinking back to my days at camp. I return to camp because the tears I shed as I get on the bus at the end of the camp session are well worth the memories that make those goodbyes so difficult. I return to camp because as I have become a part of camp, camp has become a part of me. Every summer at camp has helped me to learn and grow as a person, so much so that camp has become part of my identity. I can’t remember what I was like before I started going to camp, but I love who camp has helped me to become. It is nearly impossible to put into words all of the reasons that I go back to camp year after year, but what it all comes down to is love. Camp is a place I love, and that, above all else, is why I return to camp. Write or share your story on our Facebook page, and let us know, why do you return to California summer camps every year?