1. The overwhelming smiles you are responsible for putting on the children's faces
The same kids for nine weeks, the same faces every morning at 8 am. It never gets old. Even the simplest of things could put a smile on their face, and that makes every second of every hour that I am on the clock worth it. These kids may not always come from the best backgrounds, or the most humble homes, some do not have family or a home at all. So we become their family. It is our job to be there for them, keep them alive, and love them no matter what qualities they encompass. Their bright smiles keep me going.
2. The neverending camp songs and dances that you continue doing even on the weekends
“You can’t ride my little red wagon, the axles broken and the wheels are dragging!” That song is one I will never forget, no matter where life takes me or how old I become one day. Camp songs are always fun, sometimes illogical, but most importantly can always put you in a good mood. The silly songs and fun dances find a way to break every one out of their comfort zones, even the shyest of campers.
3. The nonsensical and repetitive questions about anything and everything
I find myself answering questions that I can not fathom, or ones that I believe are a conversation for them to have with their mom and dad at home, certainly not with me. The awkward question of “Where do babies come from?” or the sad and depressing questions of “Why does my daddy not live at home any more?” come up regularly, and part of being a camp counselor is learning how to deal with situations like these. The best question is “When do I get to go home?” especially when they were literally dropped off five minutes prior!
4. Going home covered in chalk, sticky stuff- which you hope is just apple juice and not boogers, and graham cracker crumbs- but not caring about your appearance after all of those weeks because, put simply, it’s camp
It comes to the point where you do not even care if you can’t get home and go in the shower right away. The constant mess that you have become over the weeks and long hours spent with tiny humans is comical, and you learn to embrace the marker that covers your arms, the dirt under all of your finger nails, and the chalk that covers your legs and arms. Oh you totally can not forget that farmer’s tan that comes out whenever you are not wearing your camp clothes.
5. The annoying daily struggle of inspecting the kid’s lunches to figure out if their sandwiches are filled with sunbutter or peanut butter- because the difference between the two is crucial
Peanut allergies are more than common, especially at a summer camp filled with soon-to-be kindergarteners. Kids never know the difference between peanut butter or sunbutter, so it is up to us to sniff it intensely until we come to a conclusion about whether or not the kid has to sit at the peanut butter free table. Many tears flow after the conversation about where they have to sit based upon the insides of their sandwich, because apparently sitting at the peanut butter free table is the coolest thing in the world. The amount of parents who complain that all they have left at home is peanut butter but their kid cried all night that they couldn’t sit with the peanut butter free kids. Oh to be young again and have the biggest problem in my life be having a sun butter sandwich instead of a peanut butter one.
6. The one kid who needs a bandaid every five seconds, especially for NONEXISTENT CUTS
*Kid screams as if his leg is being sawed off- has cut smaller than any eye can see*. This same scenario happens more times than I can keep track of in one day. It is as if these kids think a band aid will cure all of their pain and make them forget all about the pain they felt when they tripped over that tree trunk earlier. Basically if you want to be in the cool kids club, you need a bandaid on your body in at least nine different spots.
7. Coloring is never a time consuming activity no matter how much you want it to be
As soon as you hand them a sheet of paper it is as if the world is going to end and they need to cover the entire sheet from top to bottom as fast as they can. The whole entire box of crayons ends up filled with millions of little pieces of what used to be 24 whole pieces, because their five year old little hands snaps those things in half in the blink of an eye. So lesson learned, if you are looking to fill a 45 minute block of time, do not plan on handing the children coloring pages. You will turn around and before you can even look up there's a tiny human pulling on your arm saying “I finished”- you can bet your life on it.
8. The interesting things that come out of the kid’s mouths
One day I was sitting by the pool with my campers and I told them to pull out their lunch boxes and start eating their meals. Everything was going great, which is rare for lunch time with five year olds, all until one girl started to get all angry and worked up. I went over to her expecting that maybe her mom packed her brother’s lunch instead of hers, or there was a bug on her sandwich. Well it was none of those. I asked her what was wrong and she looked at me and said, “Well teacher, these chips smell awkward and I just do not know what to do”. I sat there laughing so hard I cried and just embraced the awesomeness of five year old campers. This is just one of the many interesting things I have heard as a camp counselor, and definitely not the last.
9. Goodbyes are never easy
Goodbyes are hard, even if you try to convince yourself that they are just “see you laters”. When you see the same people for nine weeks straight, leaving them for a year is never easy. Change is hard for a lot of people, especially me. Those kids mean the world to me, they keep me going and make me want to keep on going each and every day. They lead me to have a happy life and want the best for myself. They inspire me to be the best version of myself, not only for them, but for me as well. I try to avoid goodbyes as long as I can, but all good things must end, and as Ponyboy said himself, “Nothing gold can stay”. I wish I could live the camp life all year round, but having to wait until the summer makes the school year easier to get through, knowing that soon enough I can see my favorite counselors and tiny humans once again, and make even more memories and lifelong friends once again.
10. You would not trade this job for anything in the world
Being a camp counselor has changed me into the person I am today. It has taught me patience, open mindedness, understanding, and most importantly happiness. My life would not be the same if it was not for camp and the memories I get to share, and the people I get to share them with for the entirety of my summer. I would not take millions of dollars in exchange for what I experience each and every summer as a camp counselor. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I am given each minute I spend at camp, and I would not trade it for anything in the world, I mean that with all of my heart.