by Rand Southard
It’s that time of year again to look for some fine young people who want to be summer camp counselors, to begin the process of putting a team together of people that will absolutely change the lives of a few campers. I can’t help but think about the wonderful impact that these young folks will have on the campers, but maybe even more so, the impact that the camp family will have on them.
When I say camp family I mean it. We all become a family, for a while, and some for a lifetime. I know those people who were there with me during the summers I was a counselor had a tremendous influence on me. Not only did working with the campers change my life, but the counselors I worked with shaped me.
I was not confident my first summer. I had always had the support of my family and small group of friends, but, I had not been tested on my own. I remember wondering if any one would like me? Would any one befriend me? Could I work with the kids? Would I have the endurance? Would I have the patience?
I look back now and see how I was rescued from those feelings of my own by those I was surrounded by. As I write, names from the past flood my memory. Counselors and campers alike who helped me in various ways to learn that I had some skill of my own, that people outside my home town would like and love me, that I could earn the respect of the campers.
I still see those faces, know those names, forty years later. Most of those I worked with became professionals who work with children in some capacity, some in other fields, some I remain in contact with, some fit in the ‘closest friends’ category.
After being around “camp life” for 40 years I’ve seen what camp does for so may counselors like me. They come to camp a little nervous, excited and more often than not, not knowing anyone – much like the campers. They leave confident, fulfilled and with a group of friends like they may never find in one place again!
I believe fully that the experience gained being a camp counselor is as valuable as four years of college. Almost all camps offer valuable experiences. This place called Charis Hills is special… but I’ll save that for another time. I will say that if you are considering a camp counselor position, be ready to be exhausted, worn completely out, and re-filled with the best emotions, experiences, and friends you may ever encounter.