Here's another camp counselor story! Thanks, Victoria, for sharing! Send your story to media@ACAcamps.org .
Ever since my first year at camp twelve summers ago, I’ve come to realize that camp can only be completely understood through experience. The following is my defense of a continued obsession with the experience called "camp" — for anyone who might not understand why I work as a camp counselor, including my dad.
“Working at Camp Howe is wonderful, but please don't delude yourself into thinking that it is all just fun and games (although there are definitely a lot of both). The truth about my employment at camp is that I work hard for excessive hours each day for very little money — the same principle that applies to most people in their own everyday jobs in the 'real world.'
The job world — like life, and society in general — brings competition, disorganization, and situations that we have to learn to rise above. As a testament to the wonderful upbringing I have received, and the experiences that I have gone through, I feel confident in my ability to make the right choices. I am confident in my ability to use the resources that I have been given, to overcome obstacles, brain storm, and solve problems. I am confident in myself. I foresee unforeseeable walls that I will come up against. I can overcome them. Or if I can't, I will learn how to do so. I am independent, resourceful, and armed with a strong belief in my abilities.
Camp Howe has given me that belief in myself. Camp has raised me to a level that a very select group of teenagers my age can say they’ve been at. Likewise, camp has taught me to shoulder responsibilities that some people, many years my senior, have yet to carry. Camp brought me to that level, creating an environment where I not only do well but excel. I'm young, willing to learn, make mistakes, and fall down if need be. I'm a strong believer that life is the choices you make. And I have continued to choose Camp Howe for many reasons: the experiences, the connections, the ability to be part of the team, to work with children, to understand myself and others, to gain confidence, to learn to be compassionate, and so much more.
But most importantly, I choose Camp Howe because it is my second home, and I love it. You can't put a price tag on the experiences that have helped make me who I am. It is because of experiences like the ones I have made at camp that I am so confident in my abilities today. I know you don't always see eye to eye with me about my decision to work at camp. I wanted to share with you how profound an impact camp has had on me. I know that someday I'll have to give it up and move on. Maybe someday soon. Who knows? But I will never regret giving up a few summers to do something special for kids who were a lot like me when I was younger. It is something I will never forget.”
Victoria Ware has spent twelve summers at camp, three of those on staff. This year, her roles included farm manager, lifeguard, cabin counselor, and laughter enthusiast.
Photo courtesy of Skyline Camp and Retreat Center, Almont, Michigan