Outside the Traditional Classroom
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Outside the Traditional Classroom

The Lessons of a Summer Camp Experience

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Outside the Traditional Classroom
Kaitlyn Casserly

When we hear the term "Summer Camp" we think of all the classic films and television references. The week long sleep away camp, smores around a campfire, spending time in a lake in the outdoors, and more. Sometimes there are tents, sometimes cabins. At the end of the week, or weeks you go home with a list of stories and scars from your experience. Just as every movie is different, so is every story .

I've lived through several summer camp experiences to say that each is different. I've gone from a camper to a staff member and what I have to share is some truths. It's not all the glitz and glam as you may remember singing along to from Camp Rock, or discovering you have a secret twin like in the Parent Trap, or even as wild as Camp Lazlo. However, what it is, is unique. The lessons you learn from the summer camp experience are more than you may ever realize you would have.

When I first became a camper, living in woods was the most exciting thing. It was fairly stereotypical to imagine going to camp like in the movies, but it was what made going into it so positive. I took programs that got me involved in the camp and allowed me to explore new areas of interest, and that would enable personal growth. At the end of the week I learned more than just my love of adventurous activities, but that the group I had gone up with, grew closer in just a matter of days. Nights would be spent sharing stories outside of tents, eating meals together and looking forward to the next time we'd come together.

That's what motivated working on staff. Not only getting to work hands on with the areas I loved, but teach them. It also gets you away from home for several weeks. Especially if you work away from home, you get to live a different lifestyle aside from just being in the woods. You meet people form all over who come together for the same reasons; the love of the job. You go through training that at times makes you stressed. You'll sometimes hate certain parts about it, and want to go home. Nights off are a true escape- even if just for a few hours. Setting a sleep schedule and having fun is a balance that can be a struggle. You want to stay up and have fun, but also have to report the next morning. Your friends can be widespread, you'll click with some, and stay distant form others. There's nothing wrong in that, but it comes down to being able to work together. Some days feel longer than others, sometimes classes don't go as great as the day before. That's where the personal growth comes in. Your leadership style may change, and they way you carry about certain aspects may certainly change too. You as a person will learn new things about yourself on top of your new experiences.

One of the biggest things I have learned is the incredible way people come together and how with as many people as there may be, so many of them have the same things in common. Friendships that are formed are quick, but strong. You live with each other practically 24/7. You may find yourself with fears, more work than you anticipated, and sometimes even a lack of motivation. When you spend so many weeks doing the same thing, it can get pressuring. Its not always easy to handle perfectly. You learn from your bad days the same ways as your good ones.

Working on camp staff may not turn out to be for everyone. Sometimes it can become one's passion (in a way) where they spend anywhere from 3 to 10 or more summers doing what they love. It provides so much more than a paid summer vacation, or a job. It build your resume, your skills and even your character. Everyone takes away they're own piece of the puzzle. Some will have more to remember than others. Everyone will remember something.

The thing I love about it, is how different it can be each time around. Staff can cycle through, campers get older, and you make new friends. You can be in the same place for several years, and each time there are new stories and new ways the group comes together. Change comes in small ways, and even a year can make a difference.

What you take away from the camp experience is the independence and the new set of knowledge you worked with. Your friends brought out new sides to you. You lived new ways that inspire you to try new things at home. It can even motivate you to pursue career opportunities.

With the experiences I've had, I can most certainly recommend that anyone tries it at least once. Because no matter what experience you have, it is YOUR experience. And you'll always have the memories that come with it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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