Director Jud's Blog

Swaggers Shares a Secret: SMA Summer Camp for Teens

Posted by Jud Millar on Thu, May 25, 2017


I was 14 when I first set foot on Stone Mountain Adventures.

New Call-to-actionSmall-Camp-2.jpgI was gangly, in the midst of a growth spurt that never quite happened, and terrified. The summer before, I had a not-great camp experience and I thought that SMA Teen Summer Camp would be more of the same. Worst yet- I also thought I wouldn’t be strong enough or good enough to do any of the activities. I did not want to have my folks leave me for four weeks. I wanted to go home. Immediately. Safe to say- my parents left me. My fears were proven wrong. And I had the best summer of my life. I got the best nickname. I made some amazing friends. I learned how to rock climb, I failed at wake-boarding, and I went white water rafting and swam my first rapid. I continued to go to SMA until I was 17 before finally having to come to the realization that I had to wait to become a counselor.

Wanna know a secret?

New Call-to-actionBeing a counselor is better. Your relationships are stronger. You have more fun, more stories, more laughs. For those of us who are ex-campers, it’s also great to know you are giving back to a place that has given you so much. There is no doubt in my mind that SMA helped form me into who I am today. Going to SMA Summer Camp for Teens gave me so much confidence, new skills, new friends (many of whom are counselors along with me), and a new outlook on life. It also is one of the main reasons that I chose to go to Penn State. While now most of the staff are internationals, a lot used to come from PSU. When I was looking at schools, I thought if so many cool counselors came from Penn State, then it couldn’t be all bad. And it has really good ice cream so the choice was an easy one.



This spring, I graduated from Penn State University!

New Call-to-actionI finished my undergrad, having changed my major 6 times, traveled on 4 continents, published work, and formed a really solid family of friends. I discovered things I loved and hated in equal proportion. SMA started me on this track. It made me feel comfortable in my own skin. It’s like kindergarten- where everything’s good and everyone is your best friend. It teaches its campers a lifestyle that has gotten me through a lot over the years. My parents leaving me in the front lawn that first day, knowing I was terrified, was the best decision they’ve ever made.



And now, I’m gearing up for my second year as a counselor.

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I can’t wait to catch up with old friends! It’s almost as exciting as meeting the yet-to-be-made friendships! There are 21 days before staff training and 31 before opening day- but who’s counting? SMA 2017- just like all the other summers- this one, it’s going to be the best summer yet.


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! 

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