It was a mere eight weeks ago that I met you, but during that time we have become lifelong friends. From the first day I arrived I fell in love with your landscape, your rusticity and your isolation from the distractions of modern life. You taught me that I don’t need social media, television or Candy Crush to have fun when I have incredible friends to keep me company, songs to sing and children to care for. I learnt over the weeks to come out of my introverted shell and make more friends than I probably ever have before. I learnt to lose all of my inhibitions and sing repeat-after-me songs as loudly as I could, to hoist up my sweatpants and to act my best “shark at a birthday party” to go and get my dinner first in the dining hall. I learnt how to tie-dye, cook hobo dinners and perfected the art of napping in a hammock without falling out. I’ve experienced many firsts; sleeping under the stars, diving for a lost GoPro in the lake and I had my very first s’more. And then about a hundred more. I’ve made friends from six countries and several who I know I’m going to hang onto for life. I’ve had the privilege of waking up to the sunlight filtering through the tent and the sounds of the forest 56 times. I stank of smoke every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday nights at campfire and of chlorine the rest of the time. I barely looked in the mirror for two months and do you know what? I didn’t give a damn. I laughed more than I ever have before, and I also got emotional at times. When I needed time to myself I would go and lie in a hammock, look up at the trees and the sky above and count my blessings that I am where I am. I’ve seen countless sunsets and at least three sunrises, and I still could never get bored of their sheer beauty.
Nine months ago I’d never even heard of Camp Wasiu II, and now I couldn’t imagine leaving you, leaving Prim behind and becoming Liberty again. I can’t remember what it’s like to get ready for bed without a torch clenched between my teeth, or to get into bed without giving a hug, a handshake or a high five to 18 ten year olds. I’ll miss seeing you help young girls to flourish and grow like I have done, from being self-conscious and insecure to not wanting to go to sleep at night because they have so much to talk about. I want to thank you for all of the experiences you have given me, for the memories and friends I’ve made, for the simple existence I’ve had the opportunity to lead. But most of all I’d like to thank you for bringing out a side of me I didn’t know was there. The person who’s not afraid to talk to people she doesn’t know, or to sing and dance in front of a large group. I hope she comes home with me. Wasiu, you have done so much for me and for that, you will always have a place in my heart.