Camp Best Friends are the Best Kind of Friends (part 1)

Seven Saturdays from now an excited group of first year campers will step off the bus and begin their Trail’s End career.  This will be the start of an amazing journey that will carry them from a camper on campus, to Varsity, to a TEC staff member.   Their experience at TEC will help shape them into the adults that they will someday become, while creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

For the past 10 years, we have been fortunate to have a group of 9 friends who have grown up with us and created bonds that epitomize the Trail’s End Experience.  In this two part Trailblazer series, we will introduce you to this unique group and allow them, in their own words, to shed a little light on their days at TEC.  We are proud of what the Trail’s End Experience has meant to this group and many, many others that have spent their summers with us in Beach Lake, PA.

1098234_10201412352258089_289320981_nName: Nicole Vingan
Nickname: Nikki
Years in Camp: 7 years camper and 3 years counselor
Favorite Food: Sushi and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Favorite Quote: My favorite quote is from a Dave Matthews song called Two Step. It’s “Celebrate we will, because life is short but sweet for certain”
Years you won Olympics (team and year): Ukraine 2006, Turkey 2007 and India 2009.

I am from New Jersey. I just finished my freshman year at the University of Michigan. I started camp as an extremely shy and homesick 10-year-old camper and by the end of my first summer, I couldn’t get enough of camp. I kept coming back every year until LT summer, which was by far the best summer of my life. I am now going to camp for my 3rd year as a staff member and going on exactly a decade at Trail’s End. My best friends have been with me through every step of the way and I have the most amazing camp memories with them. We keep in touch all year long in our group chat and I even go to school with one of them (Jordan Halper).  What makes camp friendships so special in general is the sheer amount of time you all spend together. It’s amazing what you can learn about other people when you surround yourself with them everyday for 8 weeks. I’ve learned secrets, fun facts, likes and dislikes and so much more; and as cliché as it may sound, my camp friendships are the ones that will last forever.

Hanna and BrettName: Hanna Feibus
Years in Camp: 8 years as a camper and 3 years as a counselor
Favorite Sports Team: NY GIANTS
Favorite Camp Tradition: Olympic Opening Ceremony “YES.”
Favorite Quote: “A stove is a stove no matter where you go” – SpongeBob Squarepants
Favorite Song: Space Jam by QCD

I attend Duke University (with Brett Finkelstein). My experience as a camper had its ups and downs.  I used to be a shy kid and was definitely very quirky.  I wasn’t sure I would make friends. Camp is a place where I’m always comfortable being myself.  Varsity was my prime and shaped who I am today.  I became a more confident person.  I then became a counselor and to my surprise, my years as a counselor have been my favorite.  It was time to take responsibility and help younger kids fall in love with camp like I did.  I especially love it when my campers ask me about my friends.  They all tell me that they hope their friends will be as close as us when they grow up.  My friends and I talk all year long.  We’re always caught up on each other’s lives and always trying to make plans to see each other.  We do the occasional group video chat as per Bass’ requests.  We’re so comfortable telling each other anything and I’m sure our friendship will never change. I am thankful for camp bringing them into my life.

Name: Lindsay BernsteinGirls Lindsay
Nickname: Blobz (the names your camp friends make up for you always stick… no matter how strange they may be)
Years in Camp: 7 as a camper and 3 as a counselor
Favorite Food: I would have to say camp cookies, but for the 10 months of the year when we aren’t in camp I LOVE avocado!
Favorite Quote: “I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry”- Cat Stevens
Favorite Song: “Slide” by the Goo Goo Dolls
Olympics Victories: Green and White Turkey 2007

I am currently a freshman at Penn State University.  This will be my tenth summer at camp, and I can say from the bottom of my heart, that there is no place I would rather spend my summers. My friends further enhanced the camp experience and helped me learn some of the most important life qualities. I feel comfortable around them, like I am able to be myself, free from the pressures of the outside world.  Our friendships are unlike any friendships I have ever experienced.  These eight people are truly my best and closest friends.  They quickly transformed from my best friends for the 52 days of the year that we were in camp, to my best friends for all 365 days of the year. They are the most kind-hearted, selfless, and funny people I know, and I really don’t know where I would be without them.  I am so lucky to have them for advice and guidance during the most difficult times. Being at camp with my best friends has made me a better friend, a better leader, and a better overall person, and I truly am better for having been at Trail’s End Camp.

David Name: David Margulies
Nickname: Marg
Years in Camp: 8 years as a camper, 3 years as a counselor
Favorite Sports Team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Favorite Song: “It Happens Every Time” by Dreamstreet
What you look forward to every year at camp: The first day of camp is the most anticipated day of my summer.

I am a freshman at Vanderbilt University. I’m about to begin my 11th summer at TEC, and looking back, I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life. I came to camp knowing only one other kid, but I immediately gained many new friends. Teddy, Ben and I became friends on campus but once we entered Varsity, the girls joined our tight knit group. Camp allows each and every camper to step up and become his or her own person, to become a leader. Through the years, I became closer with all of my friends from campus, and made tons of new friends of all different ages. What I like most about camp is I can completely be myself around my camp friends with no fear of judgment, and I can tell them anything. When transitioning from camper to counselor, my group of 8 friends was always there to back me up through all of the hard times as a counselor, giving me advice or just lending an ear when I needed someone to talk to.  These are all of my best friends, and we have never stopped maintaining constant contact throughout the year with a group message that is constantly ringing.

Name: Perri VinganGirls and Ryan
Nickname: Per
Years in Camp: 7 years as a camper and 3 years as a staff
Favorite Camp Tradition: Opening and Closing Campfire
Favorite Quote: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost
What do you look forward to every year at camp: Meeting my campers
Years you won Olympics: India (2009), Sweden (2010), Latvia (2012)

I am a freshman at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Camp has been a major part of my childhood and my transition into adulthood. Trail’s End has shaped my views regarding friendship, leadership and commitment. My friendships with my camp friends are indescribable. We talk non-stop over the course of the months we are apart and try and make as many visits to each other as possible. It’s difficult now that we are all in college with different semester breaks and final times, but we try and make it work.

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become. I am so thankful that I have my camp friends in my life. They are my rocks and I will be forever grateful for everything they’ve done for me and who they’ve helped me become.