Can anyone help me out with my common app essay? I'm applying early to Cornell and I want to make sure its perfect. Thanks!
Topic of Choice: Give the speech that you never had a chance to give.
Drive straight on Highway 14 until you reach the corn stalks of the Martin family farm. These directions have been instilled upon you since your very first year at camp. Now for those of you that took your initial trip down this morning, you will come to consider the 14527 zip code home. You will count the days until you board the yellow school busses at the Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Ithaca Jewish Community Centers, but nothing will be as satisfying as that sharp left made onto Camp Road. You know the feeling of your quickening heart beat all too well as the bus overloads with cheering and ecstatic screams of "A Little Birdie in a Tree." You wish with all your might that the driver will speed up and pass through the gates guarding this unique place. They don't though, they never will. Before you disappear into the wooded edges of Camp Seneca Lake, the Martin Family corn fields are to your left. These stalks are short without a cob in sight, but as the corn grows taller you all will grow closer.
Located in Penn Yan, New York, Camp is a microcosm in itself. For six weeks out of the year, you are rid of Facebook notifications, incessant incoming texts, and the conveniences which you all have become so akin to. The only connection to the outer world are the letters each of you write to family and friends. Wake-up is sounded by an air-horn or occasionally the melody of beeps from an exuberant staff member's car. Walking becomes second nature as the only method of transportation are your own two feet. The wooden cabins and platform tents covered with signatures of past campers invite you to leave a trace so that future generations may look back just as you do now. A slight chance of rain or a the storm-of-the-century do not dampen daily activities but provide a chance to go ravine running or mud-sliding. The Judaic influence flowing through camp accompanies you at every meal. The words of the Hamotizie and Birkot are said daily while the Shir Hamalot is reserved for the Sabbath. However, through out this mass of 200 acres there stands two monuments that consecrate camp for all generations. Brightly painted American Indian symbols stacked one on top of another decorate the totem pole. The marking of 1928 carved into the base, not only signifies camp's beginning but also my grandfather's legacy at camp. From this post, a short walk down Infirmary Hill leads to the fire circle. Six levels of pews, facing east towards Jerusalem, serve as a place of meeting, song, and prayer. Ingrained in these benches are Sabbaths, introductions to color wars, and final campfires; moments that are cherished by past and present generations.
Tonight, I stand here in the fire circle as a past camper and current staff member advising each of you to cherish this time. Just as the green leaves on the big oak tree by the dining hall fade, the July and August sessions will drift into September. You will find it difficult to leave and once gone, longing to return to this one of a kind place. Learn from my beginning years as an average, static camper. I would participate but bring nothing to the table. I would speak in Shabbat services but never say anything truly insightful. I would allow others to shape me but never thought to give anything back. For my first six years, I was simply there. However in 2008 on the first day of my last summer as a camper, I, one of the fifty-two mumblers of the traditional senior camper cheers, gave back. As forty-eight of you arrived today knowing, this is it. Your time here is short, so great importance lays in placing your all into every activity you undergo, every relationship you create. You will never get this experience back. So be active and live your summer life with your summer friends. I chose this path and it made all the difference.
Throughout the summer, you will undergo trials placed before you; first as individuals or small groups, and gradually as one large family. You won't exactly become unified; you will become best friends, worst enemies, and siblings. You all will loose your sense of individuality, but at the same time, gain a perspective of who you are as individuals. Time will be lost as passion floods your minds, turning days into hours and then into minutes, allowing you to mature together and apart. Still to this day, I have lost myself in the 52 incredible friends that I spent my senior camper summer with so thoroughly that the return to reality is almost impossible. I sit in my house surrounded by text books and school friends, yet my mind is back here. With the blink of an eye, I can transport myself back to this sacred 200 acres in Penn Yan. From the first set of uncontrollable shivers that overtook our bodies in the lake on the first night, to goodbyes as we all departed home, this group changed me into an out-going, curious human being - a part of the world - not just a bystander. The bonds made within this motley group of fifty-two enabled me to jump off the page and realize that I was no longer statically attending camp but becoming myself by growing through the experiences it afforded me.
With that said, the question remains, will any of you really find yourselves this summer; who knows, the task is up to you? However, I do know you all have found each other this summer, and you will leave with a new family, a new purpose, a new life. I went to camp to love, and be loved, to laugh, to learn, to find myself and my faith, to change, to impact lives, to play speedball on a hot day, to live life at its fullest. I went to camp to get after it, the it being any action, inaction, or reaction you can think of. I went to camp to live, just as all campers, knowingly, or unknowingly do. So with that, ask yourself why you go to camp and follow my advice from this very first day; live your summer life, with your summer friends, laugh and cry, don't hold anything back. Look inside yourself and find a way to find your way. You can go home and sleep in twenty-four hours, but you cannot, no you cannot, feel the passion, love, excitement, pain, and raw emotion of camp in twenty-four hours. You have to live it up, you have to do it big, and enjoy every moment. After all, happiness is only real when shared, so share away.