Yesterday I got home from one of the best weeks of my life. I attended the 17th annual metabolic research camp at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The three days before camp, they required us to keep food records of everything we ate. Since I don't normally keep food records on a regular basis, that was hard for me. And since we had to do that everyday at the camp, I became very professional at it. The object of this camp was to see how our phe level changed over the coarse of the week by eating lo-pro foods. We drew blood right at the beginning of camp, and right before we left. Trying new things was fun and interesting. We also took classes on things such as genetics and transitioning, maternal pku, ect. All things will help plan for my future with pku. The main reason I ended up going to the camp was not for the food and classes. My pen pal that has pku and I have been talking back and forth for the last 4 years. About 6 months ago she recommended that I come to the Emory camp to be her roommate for the week. I thought, what the heck, I might as well. So we ended up meeting at the airport the day the camp started. We had an instant connection. At the actual camp, I really didn't know anyone, just my pen pal. The week progressed and I met some pretty incredible people. Throughout the week, we held each other accountable for finishing our formula and getting the right amount of phe we needed for the day. It was amazing. We all became like sisters. The final night of camp was the hardest. We had a candle light ceremony where all of the 30 campers + the counselors went around and shared their experiences at camp. No one else in the room was crying except my little group that had grown the closest of anyone there. That night, we convinced the counselors to let us six girls all sleep in one room together, that way in the morning since my friend and I werre leaving very early, we could all say goodbye. When the morning time finally came around, the tears started immediately. First, my pen pal left, that was hard. Then it was my turn. Three of the girls ran after the car as it was pulling away, and I later recieved a text from one of the girls saying that they all stood on the sidewalk and cried in a circle for like 5 minutes. Hearing that made me cry. I even cried on the plane ride home. Having people with PKU in your life is really important, especially the older you get. You need those people to keep you accountable for your diet and they can encourage you to try new things. These girls that I've met will always be there for me and I will always be there for them. I really encourage anyone, especially young girls with PKU to attend a PKU camp. It has really helped me a lot with managing my diet and meeting new people. I also recommend coming the Emory's metabolic camp. If you're curious of the next camp's date, its June18-23, 2012. You definitely won't regret going! It was the best decision I ever made! Side by side, or miles apart, all of these girls will always have a special place in my heart. Emily, 16 yrs old.