Director Jud's Blog

Reflections from a Former Camper Turned Counselor - Teen Summer Camp

Posted by Jud Millar on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

The following is a Blog Post from Brian Swarts, a camper AND counselor at SMA, who currently bikes his way most everywhere in life.  Brain visited SMA Teen Camp last summer and these are his reflections about returning to Stone Mountain Adventures as a real "adult."

My name is Brian Swarts and Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp has been a part of my life for over 15 years. I was a camper from 1999 to 2002 and then a camp counselor in 2007 and 2008. Last year I had the opportunity to visit for a couple of days while I passed through the state, and it reminded me of how much this family and farm have shaped who I am today. (Brian, second from the left below, shares laughs with fellow counselors Hamish "Kiwi", Paul "Dunk", Matt "Foxxy" and Kelly "Spike".)


Over the years I’ve had the opportunity see the different sides of life at SMA Overnight Camp at Horsepower Farm, and at each point I’ve been amazed at the people I got to live with and the experiences I got to share. From the first day on the farm as a 13 year old kid, I found myself learning and growing as a person. Without knowing it, while attending SMA Overnight Summer Camp, I learned about personal responsibility and consideration of other people. I didn’t know it then, but SMA Teen Summer Camp would become a formative part of my life. I spent all school year looking forward to going back to SMA to see my friends again.


As a counselor I loved SMA even more; I started to realize how much it meant to me. My experience as a camper helped guide me in the direction of being responsible enough to be a counselor. Seeing campers experience and enjoy camp the same way I had years before was unbelievably rewarding. As a counselor SMA Teen Summer Camp taught me even more, but this time as an adult. I also had the amazing opportunity to work with my older sister Crysta, who had never been a camper, but having known the farm through me being a camper, she became a counselor and stayed for six years. (Brian, at left, in typical SMA "gear.")

Request a brochure

Then this past summer I was traveling through Pennsylvania and I asked Jud if I could visit for a day or two. Driving through the rocks, up the road and past the pastures just felt right. That night I sat in on evening meeting where everyone shared warm fuzzies, talked about the day, and planned the next. I was thrilled to see everyone in their roles doing their thing. Campers I’d only just met that day reminded me of myself or my friends at the age of 13. Driving in that morning I knew that some things had changed, like bunks and names of buildings, and I was worried what I knew as SMA had also changed. But when I arrived I immediately felt at home. The names of bunks is not what makes SMA a special place. It is the people and the environment. (With the dark of night behind him, Brian - bottom right - leads an evening activity in the upstairs of the barn.)

teen-summer-camp-briansI am so happy to have been a part of this life changing experience. My sister and I refer to SMA Summer Camp for teenagers as the Magical Bubble. There is something in that little valley that will always stick with me and inspire me to be a better person. I would not be the person I am today without the help and guidance of Jud, Anne, Pam, and Biff. I’m not a farm boy by any means, but the farm and Stone Mountain Adventures will always be home away from home for me. 

About Director Jud's Blog

This blog will give you the "411" about everything that is Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp!  Everything from "Summer Updates" to useful family and camp resources.  Check it out! 

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all