On Sunday, July 27th, 2003 as a very excited nine-year-old I walked onto the grounds of International sports Training Camp in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and I have not been the same since. Over the past ten years camp has changed me for the better and shaped me into the person I am today. I did not return year after year to camp because I enjoyed running around playing soccer on the all sports fields. I didn’t start counting down the days until I returned the second after I left because I thought that splashing around in the lake was really fun. The activities and the games aren’t the reason I return to camp year after year; I come back because of the staff, most of which are international.
Some of my best memories not just of camp but also of my whole childhood were when a big thunderstorm was about to strike camp and we would all have to go back to our cabins. These were the best times because we were able to hang out with our counselors and learn about their home and culture. ISTC hires international staff from over 10 different countries as counselors, coaches, and as recreation directors. Having vegemite (an Australian spread) for the first time or trying to imitate my counselor’s English accent were such fun and downright hilarious experiences. I think when I would get home from camp my cheek muscles were stronger from laughing so much.
That said the fun of camp is not the activities or games but getting to interact with the staff and that interaction would not be nearly as amazing and life changing if the staff did not all come from such completely different cultures. This summer will be my first working as a full time counselor and I can’t wait to have a different relationship with the international staff, becoming friends with them on a different level then camper counselor, but still getting to hear about their culture and life at home. This summer I know I will make lifelong friends with the international staff and camp would not be nearly as amazing without them.