We Work Hard, and then We Work Some More… being a camp counselor at Camp Wekeela – by Rosie Scorer
To all the first time counselors, congratulations you’ve made one of the best decisions you could possibly make … trust me, I made it three years ago. Getting to this point is an achievement in itself, the process isn’t easy, and the list of things to do at times seems endless, but the good times are coming.
As a first time counselor at Camp Wekeela, this summer at camp will mean more to you than you could possibly imagine, not only to you, but to your campers. Now that I am returning to Wekeela for my third year (yay 3 year hoodie), I can offer a little bit of insight into what to expect, but perhaps the most prominent piece of advice I can give is that the experience is entirely yours for the making. Before I arrived for my first summer, I felt I knew a little bit about what to expect. I did my research, watched the camp videos, read countless ‘First time counselor’ forums, and thought I’d established enough of an understanding of what I was walking into. I quickly realized that I really only knew the foundations of what I was set to learned over the seven weeks that followed. So try not to feel overwhelmed on arrival, just be prepared to roll up your sleeves and learn the ropes!
Everyone’s experience varies, but I can say with full of confidence, that there is nothing quite like your first summer. You will have the excitement of discovering for the first time for yourself what it means to be a camp counselor. When the summer is over, there are few days that go you won’t find yourself drifting into your own memories of camp. I often think about the first act of kindness I got from a returning staff member on a chilly June night during Staff Week in 2017. You’ll recall teaching a camper how to paint something that makes them happy in Creative Arts or how you would look down into big hopeful eyes, while trying your best to answer that meaningful question that your camper just asked you. You think of the rainy days that saw you sprint alongside your entire cabin to get to the dining hall only slightly drenched. Or the inimitable feeling of going from strangers to family as you glance around at the faces during the final campfire of the summer; as you feel tears start to slowly flow down your face. But it’s ok because you tell yourself that everything is fine, because you’re coming back.
The interactions we share with our campers have a lasting effect on us. For me, nothing will ever compare to the solidarity I felt sitting down each evening with my bunk during Rituals, the overwhelming pride I felt when a camper acquired the strength to overcome a personal obstacle, and most of all the exceptional gratification I felt when my camper wrapped their arms around me, before they left, told me they loved me and that they’d see me next year.
As I said, experiences vary, but from what I can understand based on my past years at Wekeela, we all hold very similar beliefs when it comes to being a counselor. We take this term and our job very seriously. We make ourselves available whenever we need to, as well as become flexible when things change, and we need to rise to an unforeseen task. We build on our own characters, sometimes without realizing, and develop crucial skills. We work hard, then we work some more, because once we become invested in our campers’ lives, we adopt the responsibility to give no less than 100%. We grow in this role more that we can in many others, and we discover aspects of ourselves that we didn’t know existed. We get the most out of our jobs when we take the time to learn from each situation we are part of. We understand the necessity of concern for others and the weight of our responsibilities. We thrive as individuals, as well as a team, gaining leadership skills, and open minded perspectives, all in addition to the things that we cherish the most…the friends we make, and the memories that we will carry for the rest of our lives.