Post-Summer Camp Blues

By Elle Woods-Marshall

This summer I spent my second year working at a camp that serves 8- to 12-year-old campers, with and without additional needs, from New York. I find it really hard to sum up camp to someone who has never been, so I will try my best. For me, camp is catching fireflies in your pyjamas with your campers before bed; it is the overwhelming pride you feel when one of the kids improves and passes their swimming test; it is teaching a camper a new breathing technique to self-regulate; it is making friends who seem to understand you more than you do yourself and it is truly unlike anything else. A lot of people talk about the ‘magic’ of camp and it’s easy to dismiss, but there is nothing else that encapsulates the unique nature of it. Camp is a place built to allow everyone to express themselves however they choose, to respect and be respected and to grow. My past two summers have taught me more about myself, other people and the world around me than I could ever have hoped, and here’s why.

Camp is a place built to allow everyone to express themselves however they choose

When I sat down to reflect on what I learnt at summer camp I thought about many things. Over my ten weeks I learnt how to make eight-string friendship bracelets (I’m very proud of this), how to get 12 campers to sleep despite them crying about spiders in the cabin, how long my body can survive sleep-deprived, how much I love receiving letters and drawings from the kids and, sadly, that I am really, really bad at rowing a boat. I found out that one of my biggest strengths is building strong bonds with people and securing a sense of trust, but responsibility and trust are also stressful and can get too much at times. Camp widened the bubble through which I view the world and encouraged me to question and explore everything. The situations you work through at camp push you to re-evaluate yourself: your strengths, weaknesses, what you know and in turn what you need to educate yourself on.

Camp widened the bubble through which I view the world

When you are hired and trained to be a camp counsellor you strive to act as a role model and a teacher, in many ways, for the kids you look after. One of my motivations was to work to allow the campers to grow and learn new things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to; new skills, hobbies, making friends and developing an understanding of themselves and others. The hope is to help provide campers with experiences and knowledge that they can take home with them but people often forget about how much the campers give to us. One of the most rewarding aspects of camp is the amount the campers teach you. The young people I worked with were often role models for me; their strength and resilience are traits I aspire to develop. I find it difficult to leave camp as it becomes a place where you feel at home and supported but the messages, experiences and lessons you gain from the summer, fortunately, aren’t something you have to say goodbye to.

The young people I worked with were often role models for me

Image: Free-Photos via Pixabay 

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