My birth certificate, peers, and all of my teachers know me as Keira, but as soon as I get into my car, roll down the windows, sing my heart out driving through the Saratoga hills, and park my car in a dusty parking lot, I become Cassiopeia. Over the course of two years and over 600 hours of service spent there, Walden West Outdoors School has become my home away from home. Up in the Saratoga hills, I have spent countless hours connecting with nature, singing and dancing to camp song favorites (such as “Banana Slug”), leading Disney sing-alongs, growing as a leader, and making some of the closest friends I will ever have in my lifetime.
Nothing means more to me than the reputation I have crafted at that camp. The only place I immediately felt welcomed into is this very camp. My “reputation” and camp behavior do not drift far from my everyday sense of self. I enjoy hiking, singing, and leading; this camp allows me to express myself in all of those ways. This place is my second home. As Cassiopeia, I can learn from educators how to teach and how to work with children which I long to master as I enter a profession in the future hopefully as an educator myself. As Cassiopeia, I can dance and sing while not being judged. As Cassiopeia, I can connect with other people who love being a counselor just as much; I can be myself. Walden West fosters a unique community up in misty forest. Hidden away, but always calling back to me with a clear road for me to drive anytime I desire.