Ethan Volk - Camp Echo Lake - Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday is a weekly feature that will appear on the Camp Echo Lake blog during the off-season. Whereas Throwback Thursday is the place for alumni to share their Echo Lake memories, the purpose of Flashback Friday is to give current campers and staff the opportunity to share their memories from previous summers. Our first Flashback Friday features a story by Ethan Volk, who started as an Upper Junior in 2007, and finished as an LIT this past summer.

If you are a current camper or staff member, and would like to share a Flashback Friday memory, please send your submission to

This is Ethan’s story…
As I think back to my Upper Junior summer at Camp Echo Lake in 2007, I remember what then-LIT, Jarett Bienenstock, said to me as we waited for Tony to begin the final morning lineup. As we stood around the flagpole, he turned to me and said… “Cherish the years you have here, because before you know it, you’ll blink and it will be over.” Looking back now, his words could not have been anymore true. He was right; seven years came and went in the blink of an eye. And though the years at “the lake” have come to a close, the memories remain.

Truth be told, most of the days at camp I remember are a blur, filled with all the electives, the free play and of course, the buddy checks. However, there are some days and events that I do remember clearly.

The first full night I spent at Echo Lake was probably the most confusing. I remember getting off of the bus and being confounded by a great mass of counselors greeting us as we stepped onto the gravel road next to the upper soccer field. I remember being even more confused when I got to the bunk and was told that I needed to put away my clothes and all my belongings by myself. This was a lot of work for a nine-year-old.

That night, at the longevity awards, as I watched all of the excited campers walk up to the Amphitheatre stage, I remember looking at the seven-year campers, thinking to myself that in seven years, I would be sixteen-years old and I would receive my seven-year jacket. And now, here I am.

My life has changed so much from my first night at camp to my last. In 2007, I was a naïve and insecure nine-year-old getting on the bus for the first time, a long way from the mature and confident person that I am today. A big part of this change can be attributed to my growth at Camp Echo Lake.

The camp structure allows each camper to develop tight relationships with each camper in their group, and also with the dedicated staff, many of whom have been excellent role models to me through the years. Camp has gotten better each year without having to change a thing.

You would think that, after seven years, things would get boring and repetitive, right? Wrong! Tribal only got better as the years went on, and as an LIT this summer, Tribal really was the highlight of my summer. Being a Chieftain made it even more special for me. I enjoyed participating in the events, and helping to run them made Tribals an even more memorable experience. It was even better than my first Tribal in 2007 when everything was still new to me.

Overall, my experience at Echo Lake has only been positive. I’ve created lifelong friends and everlasting memories, all the while, morphing myself into the person that I am today.

Jarett Bienenstock was right all those years ago. I cherished each activity, each canteen, and each day spent in Warrensburg for the past seven summers. I am so thankful for my time at Echo Lake as a camper, and I can’t wait to take a trip up there this summer, as an alumnus.

Written by Ethan Volk