2 years ago today, my first summer as a camp counselor started. Little did I know that this job would be more than a summer job, and it would change my life. The camp wasn’t a typical camp. It was a special camp, where kids with cancer and their siblings go to day camp entirely for free. When I tell you that this place was the best place on earth, I mean it from every ounce of my being because it’s so true. This day camp worked it’s hardest to make every kid regardless of their current (or past) condition feel like a typical kid. It changed the lives of these kids and everyone that worked there.
I worked at this camp for 2 summers, and those summers made me love summer. I have the best memories of my life from this job. My favorite memories include us having water fights on the hottest days of the summer, playing gaga for so long, me going in the creek getting the gaga ball a billion times, and more. I am not someone who typically loves hugs, but I loved EVERY hug I got from a camper. I loved every laugh I had at this job, I loved all of the times my campers braided my hair or wanted me to do a push up to make them laugh because I can’t do a push-up. I loved all of the stories that we shared with each other. I loved all of the times we played soccer until I was dripping sweat. I loved all of the moments we spent dancing as we wrapped up the days. These are the moments that I will remember forever.
I made amazing friendships at this job. Not only with my co-counselors, but with my campers. I became best friends with a camper over the word “yeah”. It was so simple during my first summer at camp, this camper and randomly started saying “yeah” to each other over and over again. Our friendship was instant, and we became best friends. That following summer, that same camper was in my group and whenever they were at camp we were attached at the hip. This camper truly became my best friend and I looked up to them as much as they looked up to me. My campers taught me about life just as much as I taught them. While I may be teaching them how to talk out their feelings with each other, how to be nice to each other even if we’re mad at someone, or how to play baseball or gaga, they were teaching me what strength meant. They were teaching me that strength isn’t always physical. Sometimes it’s knowing that everything will be okay, even if life is scary right now. My campers were teaching me how to embrace who I am as a person and how to be fearless in that endeavor because they owned who they were. It was amazing and inspiring to me. My campers taught me how to play basketball, do lanyard, and how to do a push-up (I still can’t do a push-up.) Just because I may have been the “adult”, doesn’t mean that these kids were incapable of teaching me anything. Kids can teach adults too, just in different ways.
Being a camp counselor was the best thing of my life so far. I appreciated and am so grateful for every life lesson I’ve learned, every event that happened, every camper I met, and every co-worker I worked with because each of these things helped me become the person I am today. This job opened up my eyes to working with non-profits in my future, and that is something I will always want to do.
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WHAT I AM READING: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness by Michelle Alexander