Guest Author - Michael "Shark" Stegeman

Coyote Lakes is not in the picture, only a boy who spent twelve days in the backcountry of the Sequoia National Forest, climbing mountain after mountain with all his supplies in one sixty pound backpack. Slender frame with an F.M.H.S. baseball cap blocking the high elevation sun rays striking my covered face. The term “shower” is forgotten for those twelve days, the purple tank top with faded stripes became the universal tool for survival: a towel, smoke mask, and pillow. Only twelve days of adventures, along with other boys my age, and two counselors that are only a couple years older than us. This picture summarizes the image of my life then and now, being completely lost in the world but taking a stoic mindset.

The pivotal point in my life was the summer of 2013. I attended R.M Pyles Boys Camp. Pyles’ mission, “Daring Boys to Become Men,” guiding the youth in the right direction, seeing potential in every one of us, was alien to me. In just 12 short days, I made bonds with my fellow campers and counselors that are embedded within me for the rest of my life. My counselors showed me the ways to become a man with a strong character of integrity and perseverance. I realized the world did not revolve around me; rather contributing to a group was symbiotic. Recognition is not what I seek; rather, it’s the outcome of my contribution. They had hopes we would achieve something great. Since then my worldview has changed and I am motivated to achieve greatness, I know I will. I strongly believe Camp morphed me into the person I am today, being an individual that others look up to now. The same way I looked up to my counselors and workers at Camp over the past summers. This June I will be taking the Oath into the United States Navy and begin my journey at the United States Naval Academy.

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