bittersweet

Look,  I’ve got to buckle down and accept the truth: THIS IS MY LAST YEAR AT DEBATE CAMP.

No more morning lectures, no more afternoon research sessions, and no more waking up at 5AM to go to what might be the biggest sale of the year.

As a senior, it’s a madly saddening thought to accept; the weeks sort of just pass one by one. On the first Monday, your lab leaders say something like:

We’re going to prepare you so well over the course of seven weeks!

Today, they might say something like:

Don’t worry, we’ve still got six weeks left to solidify that skill!

I approached this inevitability like a countdown and all I felt was doom and nostalgia.

When people ask about my summer plans, I am ready to see the mixed emotions on their face when I say I’m going to debate camp for seven weeks. First comes judgment, then comes pity, then comes fascination when I describe to them that I spend 8+ hours every day in a classroom by my own will. To the average outsider, that’s probably what this seems like, but I come back to my dorm positively enlightened by the genius of my lab leaders; they have made me change the way I approach the activity and have expanded my perspective on the game of debate.

So, as a rising senior, when you’re forced to consider the future, where your debating in college is not necessarily guaranteed, it’s a bittersweet train of thought. On one hand, you’ve had such a wonderful and experienced debate career, but on the other, you’re watching it slowly make its final cycle around your senior year. This is the last camp experience of your life.

College kids don’t really go to camp. Even if they did, they wouldn’t be under the supervision of RA’s and lab leaders. While the transition to college might be something to look forward to (much more freedom), there’s something particularly attractive about being a high schooler in this sort of situation. There are certain obvious perks to still being a kid, even if you are right at the peak.

Combining the freedom of summer and the mental state of mind of a high school student provides you with a unique opportunity to balance immaturity with maturity; add in the role of a debater, and you’re left with a senior summer experience that no other kids in the country will get.

This summer is…the beginning of the end, but it could just as well be the beginning of what is merely a transition to a better portion of my life. I am not only potentially ending my debate career, but also just my high school career. It’s a bittersweet good-bye to a lifestyle that I shall soon retire to the back of my mind, only to be relived through stories and photo albums.

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