Looking Back on Summer 2019: Austin Fortinberry

Looking Back on Summer 2019: Austin Fortinberry


I will start by saying that Mountain Top has been a huge part of my life. It has shaped me into who I am today, and I will forever be grateful for that. I first came when I was twelve years old and in the seventh grade. I was coming with only about ten people, and they were much older than I was. All of the guys were at least in the tenth grade. That week was one of the best weeks of my entire life. I met people I still keep in touch with today, seven years later. I think that it is safe to say that week single-handedly changed my life forever because now I am on staff here at Mountain TOP and went every single year up until now.


The first experience I would like to talk about is about a day camper named Emily. I got the opportunity to visit her house for the first time this summer, and she answered immediately. She was all for going to Mountain TOP, so she signed up for as many weeks as she could for the first visit. I had her for my first week fortunately and she and I connected right off of the bat. I really enjoyed her then, and I ended up having her for week five as well. She cried at the end of both weeks because she didn’t know if it was going to be the last time she saw me. So after week five, she said that she wanted to come one more week with Mollie and hopefully, she can see me again. Well celebration of week six comes around and I have already heard that she has been asking so much about me from Mollie, but then I have a conversation with her mom. She said that Emily had been asking when I was going to visit their house again and when I was going to come to see her again. Getting to hang out with her this summer was such an honor and I learned about myself in the process. I look forward to seeing her in future summers too!


My next experience is, in a way, a bad one but also turned out beneficial. So we took the kids to a farm one day, and we saw chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, etc. The day was going splendid when all of a sudden an adult in my group, Mrs. Chris, fell. I immediately go to her side to assist her. We eventually get her in my car so she and I can hit the hospital while Caroline runs the day of day camp. Well obviously Mrs. Chris is in lots of pain but we have some of the best conversations I had all summer on the way to the hospital. We talked about all sorts of things. I helped her in all of the various tasks required to make it in and out of the hospital and turns out she has a broken arm and bruised ribs. Well, we get her prescription and head back to camp. She decides to stay in camp for the rest of the week. The next day, the kids are completely and utterly worried about Mrs. Chris. They are attached at the hip and won’t stop caring for her. It really showed the kids really cared for the YSM people volunteering for Mountain TOP and I am so glad I got to be apart of that experience! 


So I guess just by hearing those experiences, you can confirm that I had a crazy summer, which I did but crazy fun is the term I would use. I want to talk about my staff first before I finish. My staff was, in my opinion, the best part of this summer. It consisted of such good people that will be life long friendships. I cherish them very deeply, and I can’t thank them enough for the way they have influenced and shaped me this summer.