|Meghan before the counselor hunt|
I started as a counselor between graduating high school and starting college and I was hooked. The summers I spent working at camp were most of the best summers of my life. Being fresh out of high school as most teenagers do think they are ready to be an adult. As a new counselor, only attending camp as a camper for 2 weeks in my life when I was 12 and 13, I was nervous, scared, excited, and not sure how hard it would be. It's a huge responsibility to help kids experience camp away from their parents. I wondered if the campers and staff would like me, would they respect me? How would I handle if a child was sad about being away from home? How would I handle an issue with other camp staff? And how was I going to remember all the rules to "Predator Prey" or every game? (There's notes for "Predator Prey" by the way. Phew!). How am I going to deal with kids around my age? By the first full week of training, I was more excited than anything. It was during that week that I quickly realized that all the other staff around me were there as a support, some being new like me and some being there for years. I learned something from everyone!
|Meghan during the counselor hunt|
I remember during one of the first weeks of campers that summer, a returning camper, he was about 12-13, said "hey Meghan, watch this!" And proceed to do a back flip off the picnic table. In my head, I was thinking "please don't hurt yourself" and "this is going to be fun to explain" if he did get hurt. He didn't get hurt and stuck the landing, thankfully. As I said to him, "cool, don't do it again!" Another staff, it was her first year as well, came around the corner, screaming "how dare you do that!!" and "why did you let him?!" For the record, I didn't anticipate him doing that and we both got lucky he didn't get hurt but I am sure it wasn't his first picnic table he back flipped off of. His response to me was "ok" and to the other staff he rolled his eyes as most teenagers do. I didn't have a problem after that. Yes he shouldn't have done that, but it showed me that I could handle it and to think ahead to what could happen. I survived my first summer with a list of camp songs to sing, and no voice by the end of the first week. I cried most of the 3 hour drive home and couldn't wait for next summer.
|I have no idea what they were doing...|
Towards the end of my tenure at camp, I was given the opportunity to obtain my life guarding certification. This meant extra time at camp and I jumped at the chance. It was a grueling course, which I had taken in high school and did not pass. So with that in the back of my mind, I was hesitant. I attended class each day and was happy to learn that some of the requirements had changed making it so I could pass the class, almost with flying colors. The perseverance to try the course again offered me the chance to try other program areas at camp. I was able to learn to sail, and canoe with Waterfront. I went on a 4 day back packing trip. I had camped growing up but this was more than I was used to. Now the responsibility feel on me to make sure the campers were safe off camp for 4 days in the Adirondacks. Yikes! We made it without a major scratch! Another moment where I surprised myself with how well I handled that situation.
I soon learned to be able to handle the sad campers, the teens as a CIT coordinator, and other staff and have a blast at the same time. I started out quiet, shy especially in new situations and around unfamiliar people. These people I worked with each summer became my summer family. Most are still my friends or in my life in some way. Between the day to day of camp and the weekend trips I can't thank them enough for all the ways they impacted me.
These are life lessons I use past my tenure at camp. I know I am capable of more than I think. I can survive on 6 hours sleep, no voice, and still have lots of energy for all camp Capture the Flag. Camp friends are life friends!
Every summer I long to be able to return to camp, though I am not sure I have the energy needed, but to smell campfires, make friends, and basically get to work at the hardest but best job of my life. I learned a lot in my 5 summers as a counselor about myself and in general. I have so many memories from my summers at camp.