By Chase Barnes ’21
There were many constants for me this summer. Begrudgingly rolling out of bed every day at 6 AM, relentless heat and humidity, crazy parents, and, of course, children. This summer, for seven weeks, I was a camp counselor at a local YMCA. Reflecting on my experience, I think about all the times I complained and how close I was to quitting after three weeks. It was a lot of responsibility and repetition mixed with some stressful unpredictability, and at some points I just couldn’t take it. At the same time, I honestly cannot put into words how amazing it was to have so many positive, and sometimes quite strange, interactions with parents and kids over the course of those seven weeks. Some of those experiences were so crazy that you wouldn’t even believe me. Just trust me on this one; I have quite some stories to tell from that camp.
And while there were both highs and lows, I learned a lot about myself as well as about working with other people. I feel that I have become more proactive, flexible, and patient. One day it would be sunny all day, and then at noon it would start pouring, so we had to spontaneously figure out what activities to do next. Day by day, situation by situation, we had a responsibility to continue the fun for the kids. I guess this is a good transition into the rather poor management of the camp itself. From what I heard from returning counselors, there was really no organization and activities were not thought out very well. Luckily, the kids didn’t notice, but there were times during the day when we, the counselors, literally had nothing to do with the kids. We would have to make up a game or find another activity to do because we weren’t provided with a great schedule or alternative activities. For example, one of the themes of the summer was STEM, and every Wednesday we were supposed to do some science-related arts and crafts. By that I mean we did one arts and crafts project the first week, and the rest of camp there was no activity.
It all cycled back to a lack of proactiveness, considering that what we did do instead was go to the playground for three hours and watch the kids tire themselves out until it was time to go home. Another day, one of my campers was stung by a bee and while she was screaming and crying the other campers were crowding around us and jumping around yelling, “Chase, Chase, Chase.” I had to deal with all of the kids as well as write an incident report, call a parent, and take the stinger out of her leg.
This was one of the many challenging situations I faced at the camp, but of course, everything worked out in the end. I learned quite a lot and wouldn’t change it for anything. I made a lot of friends, met a lot of great kids, and went to places I’ve never been. For that, I can say it was a good experience.