The Best and Worst Parts of Camp

This last week was the last time I would get to be in camp as a counselor for this summer. It’s kind of a bittersweet moment. I enjoy camp, but I also enjoy not being in camp.

Easily, my favorite thing about camp is the kids. With each week I was in camp, there was no doubt in my mind that I was in the right profession. I got to talk with, learn from, and encourage them. They asked me questions that made me laugh, but then I could also get serious with them. Camp wore me out, but the campers energized me. I worked with every age from 7-13 and every sort of lifestyle. I’ll admit, when I first started camp, I was so worried that the campers wouldn’t take me seriously because of my age. However, I don’t think that was an issue. If anything, it allowed me to connect better with the kids. Don’t get me wrong; there was definitely a generation gap (these kids had way more technological knowledge and access than I did when I was their age, and that wasn’t that long ago!); but I could still relate to them about most things. They always saw me as an adult when I needed to be, but they looked to other adults if they were there (which I was totally fine with). I loved working with the kids and spending the days with them. I was often impressed with what they would do while in camp, and I had no issue complimenting them on things they did.

Then there were the activities themselves. Obviously, they were geared for kids to do, but I was able to participate in some of them. With the exception of culinary camp (because everything we did was food related), I have at least one thing I made during each camp sitting on my dresser. Even if I didn’t get to keep some of the activities, I got to help them and watch the kids go through them. It may not have been something I wanted to do (like cut more cardboard in build it camp so the kids could make their buildings), but their smiles and confidence were entirely worth it. I got to do so many things this summer, including be a water molecule (we had a water cycle activity that was way cool), eat turkey cooked from a hole in the ground (it was actually pretty good, and I wasn’t even technically in that camp!), tour the Indiana Statehouse, make some homemade ricotta, and several other things I don’t have time to write down.

My biggest downside to camp was just the amount of energy it took for each week. There was a couple times I would come home, and it wouldn’t be intentional, but I would end up falling asleep. Once, I was reading a BRAND NEW book, and I was struggling to keep my eyes open, which is how you know it’s bad.

It’s crazy to me that there can be so many memories in one room. However, I loved each and every moment of it. I remember like my second week, being “asked” (You’re okay with this right? with not much room for a “no”) to teach a workshop about earthquakes for a program. In hindsight, that was how my whole camp experience. I knew the subject, and I was somewhat prepared, but I had no idea what was going to happen. I think that’s similar to how teaching is going to be. Each kid brings something different, and it’s my job to encourage them, whether they want to be an architect, a paleontologist, or a professional chef. I just think it is really cool that this small internship is shaping me for my future career.

I mentioned earlier that with the kids, there was no doubt that I was in the right profession. By that I mean that being with those kids, I feed off their energy. I get more excited about things that they are excited about. It’s also shown me what kind of teacher I want to be. I don’t want to be too strict; I saw that a few times and the kids would retreat and not be as open. But I also don’t want to be too lenient; otherwise, my students would walk all over me. No. I’m all about having fun (and I got to do that a lot in camp), but when it’s time to be serious, I know how to do that too (and I had to do that multiple times too).

When people ask me what I’m doing this summer, I tell them I work in the Education department at the State Museum. I don’t tell them that I get to watch kids I’ve never met before meet new friends and work hard. I don’t tell them that a 12 year old begged me to stay so he could have someone to play a card game with once camp ended for the day (and yes, I did stay). There’s so much about my internship that just have to be experienced because telling the story doesn’t do it justice. Like most internships, this one isn’t paid; however, I can’t think of a way I would have enjoyed my summer more. I got to do something I enjoy in a really cool place, and while I’m sad I’m not a counselor in camp anymore, I’m excited to watch the final couple of camps and see the memories made as I finish my internship.

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