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I figured maybe if I waited until the very last minute to pack, my parents would show me pity and wouldn't make me go

The thing I dreaded for months turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.Alyson Johnston

I should give some context. This past July, I went to a journalism camp put on by the Oregonian. For a week, I wrote articles, interviewed people, and lived in the dorms at Oregon State University with 15 other high schoolers.

And I didn't want to do any of it.

I didn't want to be away from home, I didn't want to have homework over the summer, but, mostly, I didn't want to fail.

At 1 in the morning on the day I was supposed to leave, I packed my bags. I figured maybe if I waited until the very last minute to pack, my parents would show me pity and wouldn't make me go.

Not only was I sorely mistaken, I also was exhausted. Once my bags were set outside my bedroom door, I glared at them from under my blankets in bed. I relished the fuzzy sherpa blankets that soon would be swapped out for a cold, hard dorm mattress and a rough wool blanket.

When the morning came I barely said a word. Only an occasional yes or no was muttered to my mom and dad as they eagerly packed my bags into the car.

From the excitement in the car, you would've thought my parents were the ones going to summer camp.

As they tried to engage me, my head resting against the window and headphones covering my ears, I envied my younger brother who sat at home playing Fortnite.

I'd never even played the game, but it sounded better than having to eat dining hall food for the next week.

When we got to OSU and my bags were unpacked, my parents got ready to leave. I mumbled a terse goodbye and stifled frustrated and nervous tears.

My usual emotional, sentimental self was replaced by a sullen girl who just hoped to survive the week.

On the first night of camp, we were assigned our partners for the week. My partner was a senior from Milwaukie named Kenzie. Each pair was assigned an adviser for the week — ours was an amazing reporter for The Oregonian, Jim Ryan.

Over the next couple of days, Kenzie and I took pictures and wrote profiles on each other. We immediately bonded and became inseparable for the rest of the week.

The main piece we published was on 2 Towns Ciderhouse. Kenzie and I toured one of their facilities, interviewed their head cidermaker and took photos.

We learned so much about all aspects of journalism — photography, writing, interviewing skills, and the overall process of writing an article.

The exhilaration of finalizing our piece just minutes before our 8 p.m. deadline was stressful, but the end result was so worth it.

To this day, that piece on 2 Towns is one of my proudest accomplishments — not only because of the quality of the work, but because of the story behind it.

The last day of camp brought tears, just like the first day had. Exactly one week earlier, my only hope was for survival. As I left camp, that hope for survival had transformed into an immense sadness over the week coming to an end.

I met some of my best friends, learned so much, and created lifelong memories.

If my procrastination on packing had turned out the way I'd hoped it would, none of this would have happened. Thank goodness my parents didn't let me off the hook that easily.

Alyson Johnston a senior at

Wilsonville High School


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