For anyone who has ever been a camp counselor, I think I speak for all of us when I say that camp becomes more than a place of work- it becomes a home, one that you never want to leave. A home where you spend your days with endless hours in the hot sun, millions of tiny human tears and boogers, scraped knees and hourly trips to the nurse for kids rubbing their eyes after putting on sunscreen exactly three seconds after you told them not to. All of these things are worth it when you see the smiles on everyone's faces, hear the giggles all around, and witness the amazing memories being made. Most importantly, you are making a difference in the lives of handfuls of children and giving them a home, they too will never want to leave. Each day at camp, a new adventure awaits, and with every new adventure comes the most interesting and certainly odd conversations, situations, and interactions- ones you never thought you would have. I want to share with you ten of the best things that camp counselors never thought they would say… ever.
1. "The chalk is not a snack".
Sorry children, but no matter how yummy the chalk may look, we cannot lick it like a popsicle or chew it like a carrot. And please don't dare your friends to do it either.
2. "Keep your tongues to yourself".
The following things must not be licked: your friends, the counselors, the tent poles, other people's food, the bottom of your shoes or your friends shoes (yes, this happens), the grass, the gravel (also happens), or anything else that does not require your tongue touching it in anyway
3. "Your underwear goes on under your pants, not over".
I do not understand how wearing your underwear over your pants would be comfortable at all, but it is a frequent request of tiny humans at camp- for reasons I cannot begin to fathom.
4. "Mommy will not be happy when she finds out you fed your lunch to the bird under the table"
The little bird will be your friend even if you don't feed him your applesauce and Goldfish, I promise. After this happens, you anticipate complaints of hunger and the countless trips to the office for snacks throughout the day.
5. "Just shut your eyes and pretend the poop isn't there".
Out of context this probably sounds insane, but when camp is outside and children have their first experiences with portable toilets, it takes a lot of convincing and practice before they successfully know how it works. The first thing they do is look down to see a hole full of someone else's poop, followed by loud screams and refusal to go until you flush it for them (which you then must pretend to do).
6. "She is still your best friend even though she didn't pick you to be the goose this time".
A classic game of duck-duck-goose never fails to end in tears and threats to break off a friendship if the girl you thought was your best friend picked someone else to be the goose instead of you- how dare they. Don't worry, she will be your best friend again, but not without a promise to give you her pretzels and half of the big chocolate cookie her mom packed her for snack.
7. "The turkeys do not want to be your friends".
When camp is outside, it is inevitable that some sort of wildlife will appear along the way. It is also a given that children are fearless little creatures. With that being said, they will try and make friends with this wildlife, and may even attempt to pet, hug, or kiss their newly found friends. Never did we think we would have to hold tiny humans back from running away from the group and mistaking a flock of birds for their peers.
8. "Drinking the pool water will not make you a mermaid".
I would be a liar if I said that camp counselors never make up a fib or two in order to get the children to listen. However, this is certainly not one of them. No matter how many times you promise the children that they will not become a mermaid from drinking water out of the pool (or sucking it off of the strands of your hair), they still continue to do so.
9. "Leave nature with nature".
It wouldn't be a normal day at camp if a child didn't try to uproot the biggest tree in the woods or gather their friends and try and drag back the largest branch they can find to try and fit in their backpack to bring home. Tears are certainly shed when they are told nature has to stay where it is because nature has feelings too.
10. "Yes, I would love to be your best friend".
At the end of the day, those kids become your best friends, and it brings a tear to your eyes when the tiny humans look up at you and say things like this. It makes you feel important, and it makes you feel like you truly have made a difference. It makes camp feel like home, a place you will always come back to, and never want to be without.
Being a camp counselor has changed who I am. With each summer that comes, I am given once in a lifetime opportunities, best friends, endless memories, and the strength to believe in myself. I am constantly reminded that I can and I will change the world one child at a time. Most importantly, it has given me a place to call home, one I look forward to coming back to every single day, one that I cannot live without. Thank you to everyone who has become a part of my camp family and changing my life forever.