An amalgamation of teenagers- most of whom were forced into attendance- stood circular when I came to camp: late, of course. Awkward chuckles and embarrassing side glances graced the group, creating an unspoken bond of mutual uncertainty. That coin would later flip in our favor, as our bond grew and warped into one shared by inspiring, challenging, smiling, and laughing young leaders who not only knew each other as the students who walked in, but the leaders who walked out.

This camp gave me the unparalleled opportunity to introspectively gaze into the very essence of my being and understand my values and decisions on a level that had never occurred to me prior. I was equipped with a toolbox prepared to aid me in everything from making and choosing all future decisions to conflict diffusion and communication.

SFTL provided for me a clean slate. I was finally placed in a community surrounded by peers without previous perceptions of me, which created a haven, a distraction-free zone garnered toward learning. This seminar was geared towards learning through fun- exemplified in the complete 360 displayed when all students overcame their imaginary setbacks and inbred apprehension and spent time playing carefully curated games and learning leadership.

A fan-favorite (besides the late curfew and salad bar) was the skits performed on the evening of the third day. Teenagers and theatrics historically go hand-in-hand, hence the skits acted as a sublime outlet to compensate for the lack of friction present during the camp’s duration. Though prior to our presentations, uneasiness rang true within our young minds- our performances were nothing short of broadway-esque. Our skits marked a definitive turning point as we not only showed our mentors, facilitators, and peers what we had learned; but proved to ourselves that we were confident enough to forego all anxiety and worry and to give it our best. My personal breakthrough occurred after my performance as a game show host when instead of panic sweats and nervous breakdowns, I felt euphoria due to a job well done.

SFTL didn’t feel like a course, or school, or something to sleep during- it felt like being part of an accelerated evolution from an immature child to a purposeful and directive adult. Instead of emanating tears of boredom as I’d expected, I instead had to hold back tears of sadness as I said goodbye to an unsurpassable experience, people of an almost unrealistically amazing caliber and one of the most amazing salad bars I’ve ever eaten from in my life.