I Am Still Growing Because of Silver Lake

1/21/2021

I am blessed to be a five-year Silver Lake Summer Staff alumnus. It is not a stretch for me to say that Silver Lake has made me the person I am today. The Lake taught me life lessons, skills, and morals. It also gave me friends that I will have for life, a second home, and a place to grow up, though I am still growing because of Silver Lake. I am pleased to be a Board member and thankful that I had so many summers to give to the place I love so much. I came to Silver Lake as an introverted little sixth grader, not wanting to go to my first sleep-away camp. After my first week, my mind quickly changed, and I came back for two weeks the next summer; I immediately wanted to be on staff. I greatly admired camp family and other parts of staff each year that I was a conferee, and as soon as I could, I became a counselor in training (CIT).

Waterfall Chapel "is my favorite place at camp and unequivocally the place I feel the most spiritual."
My first experience as a CIT was having Sunday morning worship in the waterfall chapel. I had never experienced worship there, mainly because weekday worships are always too large. I was stunned at how beautiful the location was. After CIT, I joined camp family the next summer. In the beginning, my main drive for being on staff was to be a part of something, a collective of people, but I realized that it is unlike anything else. I had some of my most enjoyable experiences at Silver Lake and made some of the best friends. I learned how to work with others in a setting unlike any other and discovered how to be kind and caring during stressful times. I also learned that watching others grow and learn about themselves is incredibly rewarding.

Through five years of staff, I helped fix and restore many things in our unique buildings. From the pride I felt after the Lodge renovation to the great deal of experience I gained during the winter kitchen's re-tiling, I discovered joy in manual labor, which I did not think possible until my time on ETF (Ecological Task Force). The project that brings me the greatest feeling of love and enrichment is the Waterfall Chapel restoration. It is where I initially found how spiritual the place could be during my first CIT week. The knowledge that others will enjoy it as much as I do in the years to come brings me such happiness. It is my favorite place at camp and unequivocally the place I feel the most spiritual.

Even though I went to church with my family every Sunday for many years, I am not the most religious person; Silver Lake taught me that religion and spirituality could be different things. I found the Lake to be the most spiritual place in my life. My experiences with phenomenal people each year brought me closer to the love I feel from its community. The crescendo of excitement I feel on the two and a half-hour drive out to Silver Lake reminds me of that every time. It is my home away from home. No matter who is there, I know that the Lake is a peaceful place.

Graham Sweetnam
Silver Lake Board of Directors

Find more information about the Silver Lake Summer Staff, visit https://www.silverlakect.org/summeremployment

Silver Lake Conference Center

Silver Lake Conference Center is a ministry of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Click here to read our Mission Statement.

223 Low Road | Sharon, CT 06069 | 860.364.5526 | Fax: 860.364.1000 | slcc@silverlakect.org