By: Abbie Sussman, Summer 365 CIT
As soon as I entered my first camp on a tour with my family, I knew that camp was for me. Although we were touring for my older brother, I fell in love and wanted to be let in on all of the action. I was obsessed, and after a full year of convincing, my parents finally agreed to send me along with my 8-year-old brother at the young age of “six-and-three-quarters,” as I soon told my bunkmates. Fast forward twelve summers, and my original bunkmates are now my best friends in the world. Many people think that everlasting friendships are the only benefit of going to camp, but in reality, I gained valuable skills and experiences that can now be added to my resume.
Throughout my three summers as a counselor, I was constantly nagged that I needed to do something more useful with my time. “Get a real job,” and “its time to move on,” everyone would say to me, but I still was not ready to let go of my summer home. Little did they all know, I didn’t have to. While having the time of my life at the greatest place on earth, I was actually building upon skills that later could be translated to the office. Just to name a few…
Throughout all of those years competing in fierce sporting games during color war, campers and counselors both learn to work together in order to accomplish the common goal of winning. And in a noncompetitive setting, teambuilding exercises, like trust falls and all of the other silly things we do on the high and low ropes course, teach us to work effectively work together The same thing goes at work: people must work together in order for a company to run smoothly and for everyone to accomplish their goals.
Various leadership positions arise throughout the summer that prepare young adults to become leaders in the ‘real world.’ In camp, even the most unlikely people become leaders, which gives everyone a chance to find their voice. Simply working as a counselor requires one to lead his or her campers and to set a good example for them. Other positions breed great leaders, like color war officers, who must learn to fairly lead their teams to a victory, and group leaders and division leaders, who head their team of counselors in steer them in the right direction.
3. Problem solving
While living in such tight quarters with 10-12 people, conflicts are bound to arise. Counselors effectively resolve these conflicts to assure that the bunk dynamic is balanced and that everyone is doing what they came to camp for: to have fun! To many, it may seem impossible to get such large quantities of kids, especially girls, to get along, but counselors have a special way of getting it done. I would say that one of my greatest accomplishments is getting 32 teenage girls to live harmoniously under one roof!
Without effective communication, a day at camp can get real ugly, real fast. Counselors must communicate with one another and with their superiors about any issues that may arise throughout the day. If not, issues may be left unresolved, leading to unhappy campers and counselors alike. Especially in a day and age where everyone is connected to their phones, computers, tablets, and now even watches, communicating with real people in real time develops interpersonal relationship skills that will be taken with you for life. Wouldn’t your boss rather you approach him or her about an issue in person rather than hiding behind your computer over email?
5. Giving back
Throughout the camp career, campers and counselors learn to give back to the community and others around them. At some camps, CITS hold events throughout the summer to raise money for their chosen causes. More simply than that, a camper may help a friend who doesn’t feel well clean their area during clean up in order to pass inspection. This friend, of course, would return the favor if roles were reversed. Camp also teaches you to include everyone, and to go out of your way to make someone comfortable when they are feeling left out. Additionally, the obligation older campers and counselors feel to leave camp better than when they arrived drives the silliness and laughter that they all bring to the table. This is what sets the tone for camp, and helps create the magical environment!
And on my resume, I proudly list all of these skills. These are the experiences that have shaped me and lead me to where I am today, as a college student and as a Summer 365 CIT. Although I finally did move on from my life at camp, I am doing the next best thing here at Summer 365!