About a week before arriving at squash camp I was very nervous. I didn’t know what it would be like because it was my first time. I was anxious about who I would meet, what would happen, and I had a lot of thoughts flowing through my head. Despite my worries, I knew that everything would be all right and I would come back in one piece!
Before going to squash camp at Bowdoin College, I didn’t know what to think or expect. I was nervous being away from my family, especially my younger sister, Djeneba Ballo. However, my former squash coach, Katie Siegel, had a chat with me about the camp and what I should expect and whom I was going to be with. She also told me that this would be an awesome first experience and got me comfortable with the idea of being out of my comfort zone. On the hot, sunny day of July 31, Raheem Logan, a teammate of mine, and I headed up to Brunswick, Maine.
It was my first time on a plane since I was 2 years old. I’m afraid of heights so it was really scary. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster that was about to drop but instead of it dropping it just stayed up in the air! Raheem was telling me to calm down and also not to look out of the window if I was so scared. I was lucky to have him because he is not afraid of flying. When I finally looked out the window, the view was so amazing, seeing the clouds, buildings and the Statue of Liberty, was just awesome. Arriving at the airport was cool!
When we landed in Maine at the Portland International Jetport, we met another camper named Dominick Hansford, the camp director’s wife, Marilu Fortson, along with their son Tomas and daughter Ashanti. It was a pleasure meeting them all. Marilu picked us up from the airport and drove us to the Bowdoin campus. To be exact, we went to the Reed House. There we meet other campers named Bookie, Avery, Ben, Billy, Sam, Mikela, Lewis and camper director Tomas Fortson. We were all staying at the Reed House and we had our own rooms and meal cards! After everyone got comfortable, we took to a little tour around the campus! It was beautiful!
For our first day of camp, we had to wake up at around 7am, which is not the time I am used to waking up. We headed to Thorne Hall, the dining hall, for breakfast with Madison, a Bowdoin student. Breakfast was delicious! Anything we wanted we got. After breakfast, we headed to the squash courts, jogging through the football field and stretched and did some drilling for an hour…or three. We headed to the dining hall for lunch, then back to our dorms to shower. We had a special treat in the afternoon because we got to go to the beach; it was awesome because of the view and the cold water. After the beach, we headed back to the dorms, changed, ate dinner and then went back to the squash courts for our last squash session of the day with Tomas, Marilu and Stephon, a Bowdoin student. Then back to the dorms to relax and watch Shark Week!
The week went by too quickly and I soon found myself on the plane home. Being back in New York City after a week of camp was good but I felt it should have been longer. It was fun, full of energy and it felt as if the space around me became alive. Going to squash camp got me thinking differently about my role in the world because it made me a better athlete, got me to make better food decisions, forced me to explore the world around me and just got me to take ownership in general. I just hope I can do it again this year.
-Mawa Ballo ’14