One day, something clicked in your mind and you realized you wanted to be a camp counselor.
And from that moment, nothing would be the same
First stepping foot on camp property, you have butterflies. You were scared. You were nervous. You were overwhelmed with emotion.
It was like being in elementary school on the first day of school. You don't know what to expect in the beginning but when that final bell rings, you wish you could start over again.
You go into camp with the mentally of a new year, fresh start, new campers, new staff. Little do you realize in the beginning how much they will all actually mean to you in the end.
First, you enjoy your period of staff training. I mean, who doesn't love ice breakers and awkward games to get to know names? You sit through endless sessions of required materiel and see how long you can hide and sleep behind your sunglasses, then comes the fun part where you've started to get know each other. Some who you knew from years prior to this one and some new faces, but someone looking in would never know the difference. You start doing all of the fun things together; normal camp games, learning tradition, making memories when you didn't even realize it.
Next comes the scary part. It's the night before you get your first group of kids. Next thing you know, you have a cabin full of kids. You're responsible for them. You are basically their parent for the duration of their stay. You keep them safe and make sure they eat and make sure they are taking care of themselves.
You are also the reason those children are about to have the best time of their lives. They are going to look up to you. You won't realize it but those kids want to be you. They are going to love your creative ideas for cabin fun. They are going to love your random bursts of energy. When they look back on their camp experience months down the road, they are going to remember their counselor breaking out in random dance or the Christmas party you threw for them in the middle of July. Those kids are going to be so excited to see you when they come back to camp.
I say all of this because you need to know if you are working as a camp counselor, it's so much more than just keeping kids safe. Camp is the place you are going to find your true self. Camp is the place where you are going to make your best friends. Camp is the place where the magic is. Camp is the place that when you're having a bad day, that is where you will want to run to. Camp is home.
Those kids who are years younger than you are going to remind you of the little things in life. Your co-counselors are going to teach you things about life when you're talking late at night about the most random things. When you're sitting reading a book by the lake, that is when you're going to learn things about yourself that you never even knew. It's going to be that moment of clarity that you realize you were made for this.
Anybody can very easily take a camp job with the intention of just wanting a paycheck and a place away from home but I can guarantee nobody will walk away with that mentally. Camp will change you.
Do you want to know the hardest part?
When it's all over. When that final bell rings and you realize that it's time to go home.
It's hard to leave camp behind and go back to the real world. You have to leave the place you now call home. You have to leave all of the people behind that you now call family. You have to leave the magic that has made you realize who you really are.
Take it all in before you're sitting around your last campfire with your other staff members and you realize this won't happen again until next year.
Camp isn't camp because of canoeing or fishing or archery. Camp is camp because of the people who are there.
Be the magic you want to see.