7 Life Skills You Learn As A Camp Counselor

7 Life Skills You Learn As A Camp Counselor

It's all fun and games...and a career-boosting skill-set.
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Being a camp counselor comes with a lot of responsibility. Aside from your immense knowledge of songs, ice-breakers and attention-getters, camp can help you out in every aspect of your life: personally, socially and professionally. After all, camp is just one big, fun preparation for life.

1. Leadership

Not only are you solely responsible for a group of little lives, but you also teach games, songs and fun activities. Camp will help you face your fears and in no time, you'll be up on stage leading Princess Pat in front of hundreds of campers, staff and families. The leadership skills gained at camp are beneficial in any career you choose to pursue.

2. Patience

If there's one word to describe what you'll need to work with kids, it's patience. It's probably going to take a couple of tries to explain games to your campers and at least 10 minutes to resolve any sort of conflict. They'll want to tell you all about what happened at dinner the night before, which will be another 20 minutes and trying to organize a skit will eat up two hours, but it's OK because a counselor doesn't get frustrated. They embrace the kid perspective and in the words of Elsa (you know, every camper's favorite princess), "let it go."

3. Preparation

While on a nature hike, little Jimmy trips and scrapes up his leg. Who's right there waiting with the first aid kit? Good thing you are, because none of the other campers predicted someone could come out of the hike with a bloody leg. As an added bonus, your First Aid and CPR Certifications can help you out anywhere, anytime.

4. Positivity

Some days at camp are going to be a downer. It will be cold and rainy and your campers are going to complain about being there. It's your job to boost morale and get the kids excited about camp, even on the hardest of days. Camp counselors set the tone for the whole week, so whether your campers are having a blast or wishing they were playing video games at home falls on you. This optimism lives on even when you're not at camp, making you generally happier and more fun to be around. Everyone loves someone who can lift spirits, especially when the dreaded end-of-semester finals come around.

5. Problem-solving

Camp is unpredictable, and while you may have a day or two go by flawlessly, you can bet at some point, you're going to have to deal with problems you never imagined you would. I mean, in training they didn't cover what to do if camper Suzy decides to walk all the way home from camp because she got out in dodgeball. It's the spontaneity of camp that keeps counselors on their toes, always staying vigilant, but adaptable. Camp will throw some pretty crazy scenarios at you, but so will life.

6. Acceptance

You'll meet lots of different people at camp. Every camper and staff member comes to camp with a different story and they won't always blend perfectly, but nothing is more touching than a camper telling you they met their best friend this week or that you're much cooler than their teachers (but you probably already knew that). You're facilitating friendships, and while you may not have smooth sailing with every camper, you realize how important it is to recognize their story and make your camp team as strong, kind and fun as it can be.

7. Goofiness

Camp is great because you get to be 100 percent you. There are no judgements at camp, so if you feel like wearing a cape and donut floaty one day, no one is going to ask questions. You can belt out camp songs and not a single person will care if you're out of tune. With that kind of community, you'll have the self confidence to ignore the haters and wear a cape all the time if that's your thing. Camp will allow you to be unapologetically you every day.

Cover Image Credit: Camp Kesem Minnesota

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 49

Language is a powerful tool.

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Welcome back! We made our way to a meeting with Dr. Shikaki, a Palestinian demographer--basically, that means he takes polls to see what the population's opinion is. It also means he can see how the opinion changes, as the polls started decades ago.

Again, as I talk about his message, keep in mind that this is his unique narrative, and it is different from other narratives out there--both on the Palestinian and Israeli side. He does give a very factual talk, though, due to the nature of his job. He essentially takes all the narratives of everyone else to craft a blanket-statement narrative; however, we should keep in mind that blanket-statements are almost never 100% accurate.

In addition, because he is able to write the questions being asked in his polls, there could be certain narratives left out. Of course, if you've taken any statistics class, you know about nonresponse bias and other biases that come out of censuses and samples. To my knowledge, Dr. Shikaki's polls are only in the West Bank, so Gazan Palestinians aren't even included here.

The first thing he tells us is that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank are dissatisfied with their government, the Palestinian Authority. The approval rating for the PA is only about 20-25%, and 80% of Palestinians surveyed said that the government is corrupt in some way. A large group of secular Palestinians said that they support the liberal values that are associated with democracy, such as press freedom, gender equality, minority rights, and most importantly, regularly-held elections.

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Palestinians who support a democratic political system (because they are dissatisfied with the current corruption, as the current system is not giving them a very high standard of living) rose to over 80%.

Some liberal social values are not as widely accepted because many of these liberal values are a very Westernized way of living, and Arab culture differs from Western culture in many ways; neither is better than the other. However, Palestinians do want the freedom of press and less corruption in political parties. Currently, they do not think they have an independent judiciary.

Dr. Shikaki explained that Palestinians can be split, for the most part, into "nationalists," who are mostly secular, and "Islamists," who are mostly religiously observant and non-secular. Nationalists believe in a separation of the church and state, and they are first and foremost Palestinians (compared to Islamists, who are first and foremost Muslims--and Palestinians second). Fatah is the largest political faction within the nationalists.

Within nationalism, there are mainstream nationalists and leftist nationalists. The overwhelming majority of nationalists are mainstream nationalists. They believe that though there is a separation of church and state, there should be cooperation between the state and religion; both can work together. It is not an antagonistic relationship. 55% of the entire Palestinian public would identify with mainstream nationalism (15% would identify with leftist nationalism, and 30% would identify with Islamism).

The smaller section of nationalism is leftist nationalism. They believe that the state can eradicate the importance placed on religion if need be. On the other end is Islamism, which believes that state and religion cannot be separated. Parliament cannot rule in a way that is opposed to Islamic rule and Muslim values. Again, they are first and foremost Muslims, and after that comes their identity of Palestinians and Arabs.

They show more support for a rule by Hamas in the West Bank because Hamas tends to have similar values as them. In the West Bank, about a third of the population supports Hamas over the PA. In Gaza, there is higher support for Hamas, and Hamas was actually democratically elected after the second intifada.

The public in the West Bank sometimes blames nationalists for corruption, and since nationalists are associated with the current government, Hamas could actually win a popular vote right now--which is why the PA has been holding off elections (which, to Palestinians, is another sign of corruption).

Now that we've seen how Palestinians view themselves, we need to see how Palestinians view their Israeli neighbors--and how they view the possibility of peace. It's a lot to unpack, so this concludes this chapter, and I will be talking about it in the next section!

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