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Camp is for the Campers

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Camp is for the Campers. It’s the golden rule, the phrase that has been drilled into every Camp Counselor since the dawn of time. In a day and age where we’re all told to focus on pursuing your own dreams, looking out for number one and putting yourself first, it seems like a foreign concept. “What’s in it for me?” We ask ourselves on a daily basis. However, something magical begins to happen as soon as we begin to serve rather than be served. Perhaps you remember that one special counselor that went out of their way to make you smile; maybe they made you a friendship bracelet, changed an activity because you weren’t interested or sat with you until you fell asleep. From Counselor’s point of view, making that bracelet can draw upon their last ounce of patience, changing that activity can leave them feeling like they can do no right and sitting up and waiting for the campers sleep to come can leave you wondering how you’re going to find the energy to get through the next ten minutes. We’ve all been there. Whilst saying that, there is a secret to powering through; it’s remembering the golden rule: Camp is for the Campers. When you’ve lost the last piece of string or that camper just does not want to believe that ghosts aren’t real, taking a second to consider the difference your actions can make, not only to the child’s camp experience but in their life really delivers that second wind. There is nothing as life-affirming as looking around your cabin in the evening and seeing the peaceful little faces of your campers drifting off to sleep, or the gappy-toothed smile gazing up at you as you hand them a bracelet woven with their favorite color and better yet, seeing your campers interact with joy, enthusiasm and love. Being a Camp Counselor has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging tasks I’ve ever attempted. I’ve been tired, I’ve hurt, I’ve cried, I’ve gazed longingly at the road leading out of Camp. So what kept me here? Many things… it was the child who told me Camp is the only place that they’re really happy, the quiet kid who came out of their shell in the talent show and brought tears to my eyes, the girls who just wanted to play with my hair and tell me how pretty I was (even when I thought I looked like a cave woman) and above all, the children who have never really had a home, or experienced the love I did as I was growing up. Being a Counselor, in its purest form, means that you have the chance to change the world, one kid at a time.

Claire Dorrance, Lockerbie, Scotland

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