. . . and the sound of cheers and applause emanated from a crowd of over a thousand people. As I walked up the white steps to receive my award, I knew that my life had changed forever. I headed back down the steps walking under the lit candles that had now formed a tunnel over my head, and sat into the famed white canoe. Still in shock of what had just happened, I faintly heard the kind woman paddling stern say, "Look Audrey, they are singing to you." Turning to my right, I saw every girl singing the Ideal Girl song. I began crying as I pulled into the dock, and all my friends and family came running to me anticipating a hug.


For the past eight years, I have spent each unforgettable month of June at Camp Waldemar. Founded in 1926, this all-girls camp located in Hunt, Texas is a tradition among the women in my family. My grandmother, mother, and sister were campers there. Exposing me to activities from quadrille to polocrosse, guitar to badminton, and canoeing to journalism, Waldemar's primary purpose is to foster the mental, physical, and spiritual growth of the campers. Yet, the most important thing I learned was the Waldemar Creed. It says to live each day as if I will never see tomorrow; to give the advantage, but never ask for it; to meet disappointment without resentment; to always remember that my life is made easier by the service of others, and to be grateful for it. 


Along with the Creed, Waldemar girls are taught the ideals upon which the camp was founded; they leave knowing what it takes to be an Ideal Waldemar Girl. An ideal girl find joy in service and in helping others. She remains true to herself and loyal to her peers. In times of struggle, she shows courage, and with her courage she obtains leadership, setting good examples for all. With these ideals, she will be the woman to whom the world looks to for strength.

Although every camper holds these ideals in her heart, only one girl is recognized and voted to receive the award by the entire camp staff. Last year that girl was me. Hearing my name called was the best moment of my life. I did not expect it, but I believed I deserved it. I loved camp with all my heart and gave everything I had to make each summer great, not only for myself, but also everyone else. I had looked up to past campers who had received the award, admiring them and knowing that they had something great within them. Receiving this award meant that I had something to live up to, and I was not going to let anyone down. 


There is a quote from my favorite book, The Alchemist that says, "When you're on a journey to fulfill your Personal Legend, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it." This award was just the beginning of my Personal Legend, my journey of incorporating these ideals into my life. I know that in college these ideals will guide me to success. I will not be afraid to take on leadership roles. I will help all those in need and be open to all ideas shared. I will have the courage to stand up for what I believe. Most importantly, I will be true to who I am, knowing that I am here to serve and help others to the best of my ability. 

-Audrey Hanna, Ideal Waldemar Girl I Term 2017