They say you live “10 for 2." Working your ass off all school year long, participating in extracurricular, AP classes, internships and volunteer work. They say that camp is one of the most magical experiences in your entire life. Sitting with your best friends eating popsicles on a steamy day and then going in the serene lake, relaxing and reminiscing about the memories you have had together is what us campers live for. We live for the camp food: surplus of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hot dogs on carnival day and the tuna fish available on non-dairy days at my Jewish Summer Camp. We live for the color war breaks and the days spent in the pool. But what I never knew, is that being on the other side of the spectrum and being a counselor is truly the greatest job in the world.
It does not take much to change a child’s life. So many of my profound childhood memories revolve around camp and my counselors. The thought of being a kid again is so exhilarating, let alone having the opportunity to change the entire campers outlook on the camp experience can be impactful.
Yes, there are so many little annoying things about camp including getting twenty kids changed after a swim, or setting up for lunch, or going back with the kid after they just had to leave their Hello Kitty towel on the other side of the camp. But in all honesty, I would not change it for the world. The opportunity to be yourself in a workplace is better than any retail position around.
It is easy to assume that being a camp counselor is easy, but honestly it is the furthest thing from it. Aside from being a “fun” person to share the summer with, you are a friend, mentor, teacher, therapist, guidance counselor and disciplinarian. It is our responsibility to make sure the kids are safe as well as the bunk maintains an equilibrium, mentally and physically.
This summer, as unappealing as it may sound, I have the opportunity to work with about twenty two-year olds. The amount of things these little munchkins have taught me about life is astounding. My kids find joy in even the littlest things in the room such as a blue raspberry popsicle. They can make any situation turn upside down, and I truly treat these kids with the same respect and integrity as if they were my own.
Being with a group of kids for eight weeks every summer is incredible. You learn the ins and outs of every child as well as their little quirks. You learn just how much peanut butter they like on their sandwich and if they like soccer over basketball. You learn when to take them to the nurse and how to get them to focus. On the contrary, the kids look up to you. Over those eight short weeks, we go from being average teenagers looking for a summer job, to being a part of their family.