What is the best summer job?

Camp Counselors Have The Most Influential Job On The Planet

Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week. Barely any time off, not getting paid enough, no sleep and yet, you are still so full of excited energy when you get to do anything

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I read this poem a few months back from a camp staff manual insert.

"From "What is a Camp Counselor", Camping Magazine March 1965, P.M. Ford

What is a Camp Counselor---A Poem

Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood there occurs in human development an age which is physically and psychologically impossible. It is that unfathomable stage known as "Camp Counselor", a creature undefined by psychologists, misunderstood by camp directors, either admired or doubted by parents and unheard of by the rest of society.

A camp counselor is a rare combination of doctor, lawyer, and Indian Chief. They are competent child psychologists, paid baby sitters with neither television nor refrigerator. They are strict disciplinarians with a twinkle in their eye: a minister to all faiths with questions about their own. They are referees, coaches, teachers, and advisors. They are the example of grown-ups in worn-out tennis shoes, a sweatshirt 2 sizes too large and a hat 2 sizes too small. They are humorists in a crisis, a doctor in an emergency, a song leader, an entertainer, a play director. Counselors are idols with their head in a cloud of wood smoke and their feet in the mud. They are comforters in a leaky tent on a cold night and a pal who has just loaned someone their last pair of dry socks. They are teachers of the out-of-doors, knee deep in poison ivy.

Counselors dislike the wake-up bell, waiting in line, cabin clean-up, and rainy days. They are fond of sunbathing, exploring, teaching new games, and days off. They are handy for patching up broken friendships, bloody knees, and torn jeans. they are good at locating lost bathing suits, playing guitar, and catching fish. They are poor at crawling out on rainy mornings and getting to bed early. A counselor is a dynamo on a day off, and exhausted the next day, but recuperates for the next day off.

Who but a counselor can cure homesickness, air out wet bedding, whistle "Dixie" through their fingers, and sing 37 verses of " oh you can't get to heaven".

A counselor is expected to repair 10 years of damage to Becky in 10 days, turn Terri into a woman, rehabilitate Matt allow Joan to be an individual, and help Pat adjust to the group. They are expected to lead the most prized possession of adults much older than themselves. They are expected to lead them in fun and adventure in the North-woods, even though they spend 9 months a year in cities like Chicago, New York or Los Angles; to teach ingenious activities-then they can't even spell it; to guide them into social adjustment-when they haven't found it; to ensure safety and health- with a sunburned nose, a band-aid on their thumb, and a blister on their heal. For all this, they are paid enough to buy the second text in psychology, some aspirin, some new socks, and some tennis shoes. You wonder how they can stand the pace and the pressure. You wonder if they really know how much they are worth, and somehow, you realize you can never pay them enough when, they leave in August, and they wave good-bye and says, "See' ya next summer!





While doing my online staff training before going to camp to work as a staff member this summer I remembered how important our job as a camp counselor is. I've had moments where I have had to be enthusiastic and excited and optimistic for something I didn't want to do but because "camp is for the camper", I didn't focus on myself - I focused on them and their needs, wants and desires. I have had scary moments when a child gets accidentally injured and I need to put in medical attention. I've had moments where I get no sleep because a camper is upset, homesick, or just can't sleep. I've given up food before for them, I've given up time and energy.

When I was a camper, I thought my counselors were the coolest people ever. They were funny, smart, older, and interesting. They were like my popular neat older sibling that I didn't see adult superiority and authority in - I saw them as my close friend and when they told me to do something I did it out of respect because it wasn't like they were angry with me they were giving me suggestions and advice. I loved my camp counselors and I strive to be like the ones I had. I want to be a role model for these kids.

Nothing is more satisfying than when you see a camper from summers past who recognizes you and hugs you screaming in excitements for the week or weeks ahead. Camp counselors are like fill-in parents but with a lot more fun and a lot less time. We have to get to know almost everything about a child within a few minutes from dietary restrictions, to past injuries, any of their mental health, home life, attitude, experiences, fears, desires and what they dislike and do like and then we have to act on those and not with just one child but hundreds at a time. Camp counselors are influential people who can impact a child's life for years as I remember all my past counselors from almost ten years worth of attending the same camp. Camp counselors are who that poem describes and have the most important rewarding job on the planet.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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