Confessions from a Camp Counselor
Although at times it is stressful, there is no other summer job I would rather have. Camp is a place where community and relationships are built and when my campers hug me at the end of the session to say goodbye — often with tears in their eyes — I know all of my effort was worth it.
To all of the parents, grandparents and guardians alike, thank you for giving us the chance to care for your children each summer. I think I can speak for all of us when I say there is no greater satisfaction than watching our kids leave camp better athletes and people than when they first arrived.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are 14 Reasons Why I Love Camp!
I can’t wait for camp this year and I am already counting down the days until Summer 2017!
1) The amazing people: JCC Maccabi Sports Camp brings in a beautifully diverse group of people every year. The camp atmosphere is a wonderfully lush place for friendships to grow and solidify. I’ve made friends at camp that will stay with me throughout my lifetime.
2) Seeing the growth of the campers: As a counselor, I got to see my campers develop over our sessions together. Seeing this maturation as they come out of their comfort zones is such a rewarding feeling; as is knowing that you’ve helped build an environment in which they feel safe enough to be themselves and begin to build relationships with their peers.
3) No judgement zone: Camp is a place where everyone, campers and counselors alike, is able to let loose. Constant inclusion and reassurance allow kids to break out of their molds and defy stereotypes they may deal with in every day life.
4) Learning about Judaism: As someone growing up in a non-religious household, I find the different religions endlessly fascinating. Camp is a place to learn more about Judaism and experience the culture first-hand.
5) The tight-knit community: Immediately after arriving at camp I felt as though I had gained a new family. Everyone was talking like we had known each other for years, and friendship flowed easily between everyone. Knowing I could rely on my colleagues in high-pressure situations gave me a strong impression of camaraderie and trust. That same stigma holds true with the campers. We ensure that our kids not only grow as individual athletes, but as teammates and cabin mates.
6) Every day brings something new: Although we worked on a schedule, my days never failed to have multiple surprises in store for me. New games and activities were constantly being created, becoming a gateway of creativity for both the counselors and the kids.
7) Traveling: Getting to fly across the country and live in a new place for 8 weeks is an amazing experience. I got to visit a new city in a new state and explore it wholeheartedly. Being away from home generates an aura of adventure that brings positivity and a willingness to try new things.
8) Unplugging from technology: Although we still had our phones, we would go the majority of the day without being directly connected to social media or things going on outside of camp. This only intensified the family-like environment and took “living in the moment” to a whole new level for me.
9) Growing more independent: Camp taught me how to do a lot of things for myself, and a lot of things for other people. I believed myself to be self-sufficient before camp, but my trip away from home allowed me to make decisions completely on my own, as most campers were also able to practice. This created a sense of self-assuredness that I had been lacking, and it was easy to see the self-confidence that grew in the campers as they spent more time in the freedom of camp. I thought I was teaching my kids how to be more independent, but I was learning too!
10) Spending time outside: Whether it’s laying by the pool or surrounding a campfire, being outdoors is one of the best parts about camp. Our outdoor evening programs are always some of my favorite; having the freedom to run around and release some energy in a positive, healthy environment surrounded by friends is something I really miss when I’m at home.
11) Campfires: Singing and s’mores making has never been more fun. Spending a night around the fire with new friends always lightens the mood and rejuvenates relationships after a long week.
12) Teamwork: At camp we have such an amazing group of staff members. There’s no shortage of staff bonding time at camp. Being together during times such as staff week or Onegs allows us to form solid levels of communication throughout the summer. The trust we build lets us work together smoothly and always be on top of our game for the kids.
13) Being a part of building happy memories: As a counselor, you get to be an integral part of memories made at camp. Helping kids build their own unforgettable adventures, experiences, and friendships is so fulfilling.
14) Building connections: I feel confident that I could go almost anywhere in the world and know someone who lives there. Camp relationships last for life, and you never know where your next adventure will take you.
We are so excited to welcome Drew back to camp for her second year this summer. Drew serves as a Counselor and Assistant Coach. She has played many sports throughout her childhood and teenage years including swimming, diving, softball, baseball, and volleyball. Drew has played competitive volleyball for 8 years on both travel and school teams, and has been coaching young kids for about 4 years. She has assisted and helped run many volleyball summer camps, and absolutely loves helping kids develop new skills. Drew loves the passion and excitement that children bring when beginning a new sport. She always has a fun time when working with kids and can’t wait for her second summer at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp.
Drew currently lives in Florida and in addition to coaching volleyball and softball, she will also be working as a lifeguard and helping to take care of our 3-year-old future camper, Benjamin Steinharter.