Hog Island has almost always been a part of my life. My journey here started not, like most people, when I was ten or eleven, but when I was seven and I came to drop off my oldest brother. I can remember driving down that hill. It was a sunny day, so the ocean sparkled and the island looked green and bright. I have been many places in my life, but it was, and still is, the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
That bit of summer is still clear in my mind. As we crossed the clear blue-green ocean on the boat, I thought about this lovely, but strange, island-camp. It was strange to me because I had no knowledge of biology or ecology, or even what any of that was! All I knew was that my brother thought he was going to have a terrible time at this “science camp.” How wrong he was…
Camp will come to mind every time I hear the ocean, or feel the breeze, or watch the stars shining in the night sky.
The day we picked him up, he didn’t want to leave. He was so happy. He said it had been the best ten days of his life.
A few years passed, and then it was my turn to experience this wonderful camp. I felt so many emotions as I crossed that bay. I was nervous and worried, but in the back of my mind, I think I knew that as long as I was on this beautiful island, everything would be alright.
Those ten days were amazing, as were the next, and the next. They were filled with too many memories and friends and thoughts and laughs to even begin to put here. I remember great conversations on the boat; warm, happy meals; sitting on the glistening, white rocks during recreation time. I discovered and learned about all these new things: bird life, ecology, the forest — even food waste. I suddenly became fascinated with the world around me. Every hour was fun, and every day was magical.
But now my ten-day adventure is once again ending, perhaps for the last time. I know I won’t lose the island, though. I’ll remember every moment here, good and bad. They are too strong in my memory to be forgotten. And camp will come to mind every time I hear the ocean, or feel the breeze, or watch the stars shining in the night sky. I found them here, and I will always take the with me.
But I discovered more than that here … I discovered myself. And as I sit on this wet rock — gazing at the gray islands in the distance, hearing the familiar ocean crashing upon the rocks, and thinking about past years — I can honestly say that this island, and all its beauty, moments and memories, have changed my life forever.
Julie Seifert was winner of the 2003 Essay Contest.