Silver Linings – #23296 Emily Reusswig
In March of 2020, I abruptly moved back home from NYC as my studies were halted then transitioned to remote learning. I was struggling through my courses and no longer able to look forward to spending my summer at Camp Kiniya as I have for the past 6 years. Things were going quite terribly and, in hindsight, I am grateful for that. I never thought to apply when I first saw the message that Randy Johnston, a camp alumni, was looking for a nanny to live with her family in Puerto Rico for the summer. Not only had I never been a nanny before, I had never traveled so far away for such a long period of time – especially in the midst of a pandemic! Still, my gut told me “What do you have to lose?” My parents’ overwhelming encouragement when I told them about the opportunity sealed the deal, and I applied. Thank goodness I did, because this choice transformed my year from one of the toughest to one of the brightest.
Before I knew it, I was flying across the ocean for my first time ever! As I sat on the plane I couldn’t believe I was embarking on such an adventure. I was nervous heading to an unfamiliar place to live with a family I had never met before, but knowing that camp was bringing us together put my mind at ease.
Throughout the summer I explored the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I made new friends, tried incredible food, and learned as much Spanish as I could. My free time was spent hiking, relaxing on the beautiful beaches, or simply being a tourist. (And of course, I followed COVID regulations every step of the way!)
This alone would have been more than enough, but the most rewarding part of it all was being a nanny to the sweetest two-year-old boy and future Dudleyite, Bodhi Johnston. Wise beyond his years and quite the conversationalist, I had the privilege of getting to know the incredible young boy. Bodhi was the best tour guide. From showing me around the El Yunque rainforest to staring at the iguana in the storm drain, we never had a dull moment! My world shifted from stressful and scary to adventure-filled and inspiring, all thanks to Bodhi. The entire Johnston family made me feel right at home. Randy, a previous leader, and I shared stories of our time at Kiniya. I taught Bodhi the Kiniya cheer and used what I had learned from my years at camp to be the best nanny I could be. Even though I wasn’t on the shore of Lake Champlain as I had become accustomed to, I was still experiencing a Kiniya summer.
In June I made the tough decision to defer from school for the upcoming year. I was devastated at first, but it was a blessing in disguise as I was now able to spend an extra month in Puerto Rico! It was so much fun getting to spend another month with such an incredible family. This bonus month of adventures came to the perfect end when I got to celebrate my birthday on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico with a family and little boy that means so much to me and are forever part of my extended Kiniya family.
Although the past year has not been what I expected, the silver lining was being able to enjoy this amazing experience, due to Kiniya, and for that, I am so grateful.