10 THINGS I'VE LEARNT FROM WORKING AT A SUMMER CAMP
It's hard to believe that my Summer at camp is over and how quickly it is gone by. I had weeks at camp when I felt like I had been there for months, and days that felt like weeks. But it feels that with just a blink of an eye, a snap of a finger, I'm back at home in my own room.
When I waved goodbye to my Mum at the airport, I had all expectations in my head. That this will be the best Summer I will ever have, and I'll make so many friends that I'll be in contact with and I'll go travelling with my American friends at the end of camp, stay out their houses; meet their families. I had heard a lot of stories from friends, friends of friends about their experiences. When I went to the orientation meeting, they reiterated how they had gone back to their camp time and time again because they loved it so much and the people they had met there. So I initially had all these ideas and pictures in my head, and had my hopes high.
Like many other things, sometimes things don't turn out the way you perceived them. Sometimes your expectations are too high, and things turn out lower than you expected. That was my experience with camp. Don't get me wrong, I did love my Summer and made some close friends I hope I stay in contact with for a long time. But with every job, comes long hours and hard work, and of course some bad days. Luckily homesickness did not really affect me too much, but I did have bad days which made me question why I was so many miles away from home and why I had done this on my own. All I can say is that my camp experience did not live up to my expectation of Summer bliss, happy campers and hot sunny days.
It was tough, but I'm so glad I did it.
So I thought I'd share the ten things I've learnt about working at a Summer camp.
1. At the end of the day, it is a job and it's exhausting. That's the reality of working, no matter where you are in the world, even if it's in sunny Pennsylvania.
2. I really appreciated the detachment from technology from time to time.
3. I had forgotten how therapeutic painting and pottery is and I can't believe I hadn't done it for two years before I came to camp- I also found out that I'm actually alright at painting faces which I had never tried to do before; there's a first for everything! :)
|Marylyn Monroe for our team Colour War plaque|
4. Like it is a job, it is life and you will find yourself trying to fit into cliques. But integrating with as many people as possible, I found, was the way I made my friends this Summer. I went travelling with a group of friends that weren't a 'camp clique' and it was the best decision I made; we got on so well.
5. I feel more independent and confident in myself to do things on my own. If I would have been told this before I got on my plane before camp, I wouldn't have believed it. Although my anxiety is present and it's still part of me, I've learnt not to fight against it and just accept it.
I also appreciated alone time, especially when I had to look after thirteen 12 year olds pretty much 24/7.
6. Despite working in a different country, I found people I was mutual friends with and it showed how much of a small world it really is.
7. I don't think I've appreciated a meal out at a restaurant so much when I was at camp, as camp food was pretty drab...
8. My patience was tested to the max as there were many days when my campers were a challenge! You just got to keep your cool.
9. No matter how many times I wanted to go home, I never wanted to give up; I just had to ride the roller coaster.
10. Most importantly, I've never felt more comfortable in myself. Camp is all about being yourself, being a bit weird or out there. I felt I was accepting myself for who I am, not worrying about what other people think of me or if they like me- and if they don't, who cares?