Snowball Adventure


Photo by Gus Conda

Everyone at Snowball came together for a fun event that occurs at night called the Mixer.

My dad was in the driver’s seat, carting me away to the first long field trip of my high school career: Snowball’s annual program that H-F has been hosting since 1981.

While nervous about the new experience, excitement overwhelmed me. Who’s going to be in my cabin? Who am I going to see? I mean, what is this even going to be like anyway?

Snowball is a program that H-F has hosted for many years at Camp Manitoqua in Frankfort, IL from November 17-20 every year. Many teachers, staff, and students that have been a part of Snowball encouraged as many kids to attend. This encourages teens to feel like they are in a safe, warm environment, to learn it’s okay to express and be themselves.

When first getting there, you go into this grand dining hall and this is when the voices in your head start tormenting you. 

”Oh no, we have to give up our phones, what are we going to do with ourselves, we can’t stay up watching tiktoks or texting friends, how are we going to live, etc. etc.”

Yes, these voices played in my head for a minute but I thought about how much it would be good for me to be away from my phone to take a step back from my social life. Once I did, I felt at ease. We got placed with our small groups. It was extremely awkward being with people I had known but never spoken to or people I’d never seen or talked to in my life, despite all of us going to the same school. We got to know each other and come up with activities we would want to do. This whole night was about getting an introduction to everything, since for most of the teens there, it was their first time just like me so this experience was different for everyone. Finally, we settled into our cabins and rested for the night. 

At the crack of dawn on that early Friday morning, two people from the support staff came in singing camp songs at the top of their lungs like alarms. Yes, camp songs. I was excited to see what we would be doing throughout the day. We dispersed into our small groups and we got to pick which two activities to go to for these mini-workshops. I couldn’t wait to see how each one would be.  The mini-workshop I personally liked the most was a stress relief & meditation workshop. It was nice to take time and relax.

Earlier on that day, we got told that we would be doing a Lip Sync showcase later that night. I was nervous about it and the tension built. Once the night reached, it was time for it to go down! And when I tell you, it was just amazing seeing how many people volunteered to perform on stage. They seemed so confident just being their true selves. What a great way to end our night. 

 We had another thing to look forward to the next night..

On Saturday before our special event, we had another speaker and she was my absolute favorite: Kate Garnes. What I had gotten out of it was being a “gladiator”: a reference to uplifting yourself when you are in dark times. “I AM A GLADIATOR.” Now, this riled everyone up. That night’s event, Mixer; people formed in mosh pits, extreme dancing, smiling, backflips, laughing, balloons tossed, and much more.

 Now, the party is over.

Waking up in the morning, packing all your things. Cabins empty. Quiet. Like the way they were before. It was coming to an end. I think almost every single kid that attended Snowball could say that was the best time they had in their lives in a while and surprisingly, without their phones. It was truly a tear-jerking moment. Yes, I was one of the kids crying my eyes out. This time away was such an eye-opener for me and I created new memories that will last a lifetime, thanks to all the people who put their heart and soul into this program.

Goodbye Snowball, until next year.