What does Catapult mean to you by Ali

What does it mean to you?
I think every catapulter has their own unique experience, but we can all connect on some of the same things: going through (and overcoming) hardships, meeting some of the most amazing people and building the strongest friendships, going outside of our comfort zones, learning valuable lessons on leadership. The list goes on.

At the beginning of camp, we all have the same expectations, the same fears, and the same hopes. The beginning of high school is just on the horizon. It seems daunting, and we’re not really sure what to expect.

That’s where Catapult comes in. The camp doesn’t just put you in a positive and confident mindset, it goes a step further: it teaches you to expect something from yourself.

We make choices every day, without even realizing it. As soon as we wake up we choose what kind of outlook we want to have throughout the day. For me, before Catapult, I believed that the world was out to get me: I allowed the negative parts of my life to take up more space than was necessary. But I realized, through the sessions I went to over the course of the week, by meeting many wonderful people, and opening up to them, that I wasn’t alone in how I felt. And I realized that it wasn’t the world that was out to get me.

It was me.

I think the most difficult parts of Catapult are arriving at camp, and leaving at the end of the week (and, of course, attempting Ontree). On the first day, you get to Acadia University feeling nervous, awkward, shy, and slightly homesick. It’s the least comfortable you will probably be throughout the week. At the end of the week, you’re the complete opposite: confident, happy, positive, but also sad. You’re leaving the good friends you made and the fun and exciting place you’ve lived in for the week. It may feel like you’re leaving something great behind, but Catapult never really leaves you, it’s always there in some way. Whether it’s on Facebook: where you can talk to the friends you made, and the Great Big Catapult Group is always active with posts and statuses. Or through the wonderful Lori Barker, who is always there to help you network, find jobs or volunteer experience, figure out what you want to do after high school (with the amazing career coaching program), and so much more!

When you return back home to your family and friends, you notice the change almost immediately. You tell them as much as you can about your experience at Catapult, but there’s so much to say! Mr. Phil, mud-sliding, pre-bedtime conversations with your roommate, random camp chants, rock night, ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner… And so many other things! But nobody has the first-hand experience you do. They didn’t spend a week rapidly changing, learning, and growing for the better. They’re unaware of the tidbits of information you gathered over the week on making goals, time management, team work, confidence, problem solving, and leadership. There will always be challenges and obstacles in life but, when we overcome and achieve, that is when we learn the real lessons.

I remember after returning home from Catapult, I used to bring up the camp so much to my friends that they eventually just rolled their eyes whenever they heard the word “Catapult.” The impact the camp had on me was enormous. For the first time in my life I had a focus. I had clear goals at the beginning of high school and I had the tools to make them a reality. I was sure of myself, and my abilities. Through the Catapult experience, everything you learn adds up and you come out of Catapult thinking of ways you can apply it all to your school and community. You become a leader.

Catapult doesn’t just end after one week. It becomes a resource for you – a support system that will continue to help you throughout high school (if you’ll let it). Returning home can be difficult, especially after being in such a positive atmosphere with like-minded people. But they’re no more than a click away thanks to social media. Four years down the road I’m still in touch with my fellow catapulters!

Catapult is always hosting workshops throughout the year that will help you continue to develop and learn! And the wonderful Lori is always just a message away, ready to help however she can. When you get back home, Catapult is never too far off.

And that’s what makes it one of a kind.