Disclosure: Sorry that I’m cute in exactly 0 of these pictures.
When I decided to start applying for camp counselor jobs, I did it for all of the practical reasons. This was back in 2012 when I was in my last quarter of college. I was freaking out about not finding a “real” job, so I decided, why not find a summer job and then I can worry about all that grown up stuff later. When I got the idea to start applying for a camp counselor position, it was like a lightbulb went off.
1) I would get free room and board. I wouldn’t have to pay rent for the entire summer.
2) Free food. All of my meals are paid for.
3) Traveling. All of the camp jobs I looked at weren’t in Louisiana; they were in the northeast.
4) I would only spend money on bills. I would be at work the whole time and would have no time for spending money.
These are the things I thought of when I was applying to be a camp counselor. Little did I know, these would not only be the least of my worries, but some wouldn’t even apply.
I never went to camp. It makes me sad saying that because I feel like it would have been awesome to spend my summers at a sleep-away camp. I plan on letting my kids go to camp, because really it’s just overall awesomeness. Being a camp counselor was the perfect way to experience camp life for the first time. Yes, I was responsible for my campers, but I still got to have a lot of fun.
I got to become a role model.
Okay, I don’t know if any of my campers would actually consider me a role model, but I like to think that some of them would. Being a camp counselor was like becoming the big sister of 30-ish girls. I was responsible for these girls, I lived with them, and even gave them some advice. Some came to me when they needed someone to talk to, and leaned on me when they needed a shoulder to cry on. Some I still talk to today. I didn’t think I would form this big of an attachment to these girls, but I did. I’m like that with anyone who comes into my life that I deem important. Even though I didn’t get to go back for their last summer, I still watched the talent show videos on the camp’s website. I was proud of them from several miles away, and sometimes when I think about them, I just get sad that I’ll probably never see any of them again.
I got to do camp-y things.
Like I said, I had never gone to camp before, so I feel like a big portion of my life was deprived of a lot of experiences. I experienced a lot of things at camp that I don’t think I would have done otherwise. I zip-lined (okay, that really shouldn’t count because I had zip-lined before, but it was still awesome), I did a lot of crafty things that I normally wouldn’t do, I went tubing (again, I’ve gone tubing before, but it was awesome to do it at camp), and lots of other things. Camp is like it’s own little world and time passes differently there.
There’s something about not having phone service that just makes you enjoy life more. I cried when I figured out that I wouldn’t be able to call or text anyone while I was at camp. Plus there were only three computers for the staff to use on off days and nights. At first, I cried about it (don’t judge me), but then I just started enjoying life without the technology.
I didn’t worry about what I looked like.
The camp I worked at was an all girls camp, so no one worried about make-up or spending an hour on their hair. I didn’t worry about what I looked like, and there’s just something wonderful and beautiful about that. I miss those days of laziness.
I made the best friends.
It’s hard not to become friends with someone that you spend time with every day. Not only did I love my co-counselors, I also loved the people that I met on Facebook before I went to camp, the people that I met at the hotel before camp started, the people I met at the airport when we were waiting on the bus to pick us up, the people that I roomed with during counselor orientation week, the people that I spent my off days and nights with, and the people that I spent time with every day. Duh I was closer to some counselors more than others, but just knowing that there are so many people to lean on when you’re having a rough day is just such an amazing feeling. It’s inevitable that you’re going to cry when you’re at camp. It’s just something that happens. What’s comforting is that there are tons of people who are willing to lend you their shoulder.
I had a lot of new experiences.
The camp I counseled at was in Pennsylvania, a very long way away from north Louisiana, so it was a completely different culture. Everything was different. The weather. The food. The sky. It was just two months of living life differently. The Pennsylvania sky was absolutely breathtaking. We were up in the mountains, and everything just seemed closer and prettier. I hadn’t ever eaten a lot of the food that was there like heroes and hoagies and lox and cannolis. I rode a train for the first time and took the subway. I saw fireflies for the first time. I made a list of all of my new experiences, and it was pretty extensive.
I got to travel.
When I was at camp, not only did I get to experience life in little old Honesdale (fun fact: Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling was filmed there. I didn’t like the movie much, but it was cool to recognize some of the stuff in it), I also got to do some traveling on my off days. I went to Philadelphia and ate a Philly cheese steak. I went to NYC and lived life Gossip Girl style on the upper-east side. I went to New Jersey and visited Carlo’s Bakery. I went to Lake Placid and toured the Olympic Training Center. I did a lot of traveling in those two months, and I had a blast.
I wish that I didn’t wait until after college graduation to be a camp counselor. It’s something I want to encourage my kids to do when they are in high school and college. Yeah, internships are great, but you learn a lot about yourself being a camp counselor, and you’re taught a lot of skills that you don’t expect to be taught, like patience and empathy. It’s amazing how much you can learn about yourself in two months, and yes, I did cry on my bus ride home.
For your viewing pleasure…I accidentally left the huddle too early. Awk.