I don’t think you can finish a summer working at a camp that’s well-run and not learn who you are and what you have to offer. Whether you are new to camp or have worked there a long time, it gives you communication skills, confidence, and awareness of other cultures.
Early in my first summer, a supervisor pulled me aside to have a conversation about her observations. In a very compassionate way, she shared what she noticed, stated her concerns, asked how she could help me. That one frank, kind conversation established a huge amount of trust. I knew there was someone I could approach if I was having problems or had questions. I knew that people in leadership positions paid attention, took time to have conversations, gave me tools to fix issues, and gave me praise for what I was doing well. I felt really valued.
Working at camp, I learned a lot about how to structure time efficiently and how to make sure things stay interesting. Leaders deliberately set up ways for us to think ahead, to problem solve, to communicate effectively. You have to know about other leadership styles and how to approach people because it’s a balancing act when working with a co-counselor. You have to be strong and not be overpowering. You have to talk frankly to make sure you’re on the same page. You have to address issues with campers together: listen to them without taking sides, help them talk to each other, get the group to solve the problem.
As a teacher, I hold firm boundaries without being authoritarian. I build positive relationships with students and they know what to expect from me. I creatively plan lessons and use many different ways to approach ideas. When students aren’t getting it or they’re losing interest, I shift gears quickly and try something else.
Camp also gave me a huge growth in confidence. There are so many things that I don’t know how to do, but I know I can figure them out. If I can teach someone to sail a boat or ride a horse or survive in the wilderness, I can teach anything. And I find myself learning so many new things and traveling all over the world just for the joy I feel. Camp is why I know people from all over the world. I care about them, and so I care about what’s happening globally. I have a greater understanding and respect of other cultures and I want to learn about them and connect with them.