I’ve worked in camps now for the last 5 years and have slowly made my way up to running activities and programs. This year I took a new direction to move away from campus into expedition work. However, I find myself with 2 spare weeks and a summer camp in need of a counselor. I took it. It was a be challenge for me as it was a multilingual camp and most counselors spoke 2 if not 4 languages. I rocked up with English and a barely understood German, I was slightly nervous.
I was nervous to the point that I almost pulled out at the last minute, afraid that having to work in German would be an epic failure. It’s not the first time I’ve done this to myself, gone into a job not speaking the local language, it’s a hazard you face when living in Europe and coming from an English speaking country.
All this worrying, though, was needless. Being a camp counselor again after a few years of running stuff was surprisingly liberating and just plain fun. I was reminded why I loved camps and kids and camp activities. Sure there “those kids” who seem to come to camp with the explicit idea of not enjoying any activity but they’re always in the minority. The majority of the kids want to have fun, and have more fun if you’re having fun with them.
It’s the end of the two weeks and I’m so exhausted that I’ve spent a day and a half either asleep or reading but in the end I won’t remember that. I’ll remember the hikes through the gorges, the cheerleading, the sack races, the egg drop, the awkward disco dancing, the overnight camp out and even bed putting, that quiet moment where you can really connect with the kids about their day.
Most of all I’ll remember the friends I made. The drawn out evening meetings made lighter but the strange and funny antics of the campers (one boy asking where to plug the mop in, another mediating in protest during the disco and the array of bizarre faked illnesses to get out of hiking). I feel that camp friends become friends for life. It’s not many situations that you find yourself flung together 24 hours a day having to deal with all kinds of situations. This camp I was lucky, every member of staff has become my friend and I now count myself 8 friends richer. Money cannot measure that.