I came to camp believing I would make a difference. It was the biggest reason I chose to pursue being a counselor rather than heading off to an internship. I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt after accepting a job and how excited I was to get to camp. Then Orientation came and went, and the entire group of counselors for summer 2018 was ready to make a difference. What I didn’t expect was how much of a difference the campers would make to me. Here are a few of the lessons I learned from them:
Time is Everything
It’s easy to hear that respect is a two-way street; it’s different to live it. Campers and counselors always earn each other’s respect. Halfway through the summer my campers were listening and reacting better to what my co-counselors and I were saying than they were in the opening week. I realized this was because our engagement level with them was higher than ever, and our campers could see and feel the commitment we had for them. Spending extra time with them making bracelets at Rest Hour, reading stories at night and helping facilitate the fun made everyone’s lives happier and easier.
It’s Encouraged to Find Help
I never realized how many questions the campers would ask! I thought I knew (almost) everything after orientation, but quickly realized I often needed to go to Campus Leaders for answers. At first I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to know some things. Not only were my Campus Leaders incredibly helpful, they were also always there when I needed them. By seeking help when I was unsure about something, I was setting a great example for campers on how to seek answers themselves.
Kids Remember the Little Things
This should have been a no-brainer because I remember so many small details about the adults in my life as a child. This clicked for me at camp when a camper made a drawing for the counselors in our cabin. The drawing was of us from earlier in the summer at a Talent Show. Our campers talked about every little detail of our skit, which I had already forgotten. That made me realize the little things impact our legacy as much, if not more, than the big things.
I’m sure as I reflect on my summer throughout the fall and winter I’ll come up with even more examples of the things my campers taught me. For now, I’m thrilled I made the decision to be a counselor this summer and can’t wait to be back next year!