Over the past seven summers, I have been a camper, counselor-in-training, and finally, this summer, a counselor at International Sports Training Camp in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. My experiences as both a camper and staff member have played a large role in shaping me into the person I am today—largely because of the international staff.
When I first came to camp in 2007, I had no idea what to expect. I was 13 years old and knew very little about life outside of the United States, or even really outside of my hometown. Over my two-week stay I became acquainted with countless staff members from all over the world. They shared their stories from home and their adventures all around the world. They taught me more than any class in school could have about culture and the importance of embracing different ways of life across the globe. More than anything, everyone I met had a strong sense of adventure and inspired in me a desire to travel and experience all that they had.
When I became a staff member in 2011, I had the opportunity to get to know all of the staff on a more personal level. It was only then that I understood the gravity of just how important international staff members are to camp and how much we can learn from one another. I once sat with an Australian counselor at a meal and taught her all of American history in the span of five minutes. It was amazing to me that she knew so little about something I had been learning all my life—and that I knew almost nothing about the history of her home country. Working with people from all over the world has made me proud to share my American traditions while also giving me the opportunity to learn about life all around the world.
Working and attending a camp with both American and international staff has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, one that I hope many children will be able to experience. The camp experience would not be what it is, were it not for the presence of international staff members—I think that this is why so many kids come back each summer to ISTC.