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'I made lifelong friends, learned lots about journalism, and met some amazing writers'

PMG FILE PHOTO  - Alyson JohnstonSummer camp: meeting new friends, making lifelong memories and spending time in a new place. Many kids look forward to this experience.

I was not one of those kids.

This summer, I went to a journalism camp where I met new friends and made some of my favorite memories. My time there was preceded with nerves and anxiety, though.

The following piece is a blog post that I wrote on my second day of camp. You can sense the apprehension and nervousness in my writing.

Little did I know that this week that I was dreading would turn out to be one of the best weeks of my life.

I made lifelong friends, learned lots about journalism, and met some amazing writers.

The most important thing I learned from that week, though, was the importance of having an open mind.

Below is the aforementioned piece:

I dreaded the day for weeks.

Not because I didn't want to do the work, not because I didn't want to meet new people, but because I didn't want to leave home.

Being dropped off at Oregon State University for the High School Journalism Institute fulfilled all my worst fears — at least initially.

Many teenagers can get homesick during summer camp, and I'm no exception.

My situation was somewhat unique. My mom dropped me off at her alma mater, Oregon State. While I was thinking about the work I would produce and the friends I would make, she was thinking about the dorms where I would stay and the halls where I would eat.

Although my mom and I were in the same place when she dropped me off, our minds were miles apart.

I texted my mom Sunday, the second day of camp, to ask her how she felt when we said goodbye. I was too nervous to call, knowing I would burst into tears in the newsroom.

My mom reminisced about when her parents dropped her off at the beginning of her freshman year.

"I thought about how sad I felt when my parents left me at school for the first time," she texted me. "I was absolutely miserable."

My mom and I had similar experiences when we first arrived on campus, only years apart. Both of us hated leaving home, and we especially hated saying goodbye.

"There were no phones in my room, and cellphones weren't a thing yet," my mom said. "There was only one phone on each floor. Your parents would call that number and someone would then try to track you down."

OK, maybe our experiences aren't all that similar.

My mom then talked about how she felt dropping me off.

"It felt sad to leave you behind, but knowing it was just a week made it easier," she said.

I was naive to think I would cry only if we spoke on the phone. Now I'm crying reading her texts.

Being in the same place that my mom went to college is a constant reminder of how much I miss my family. But as this week goes on, I hope that reminder will grow to be comforting.

After all, if my mom can make it through four years here with no cellphone, I think I can make it through a week away from home.

Alyson Johnston is a senior at Wilsonville High School.


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