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I have loved International Sports Training Camp (ISTC) since the first day I first arrived as a camper in 2010. I knew about camp since I was 10, but never asked my parents until 5 years later and it was the best decision of my life. I had no idea what I was signing up for and it was honestly a life-changing experience. I went through 3 years as a camper, 2 years as a counselor in training and now finally I am a full time staff member.
Having the opportunity to work with an international staff has not only helped me grow as a person, but it also impacted my life and opened my eyes to other parts of the world. Being surrounded with these internationals, not only do i make great friends, but endless memories as well. Children of all ages truly respect and look up to their counselors and love love love the thrill of having these internationals in their cabins, and at our camp, all sports coaches, maintenance and kitchen staff as well.
The most exciting moment is usually when the kids first arrive at their cabins and find out what country their counselors are from. As a young child, in my case, 15, this was the first time I was exposed to accents and the culture of foreign countries. It was mesmerizing to me. Here at camp, we have staff from over 13 different countries this year! Not only do we learn their languages, but we learn about their weather, culture, sports and just their way of living as a whole. Being an American, it it obvious to see that campers absolutely adore these staff members and learn so much from them. Seeing the campers faces light up and their smiles grow each and every day is a huge reward. Campers come back year after year for these people. Yes, we have many different activities such as the blob, jet skis, a variety of sports, but those are only the small reasons why kids return; the most important is for the staff. We, regardless of our nationality impact these campers in a positive way and they mean everything to us during the week. I still remember going home and telling my parents everything I learned such as "Mom, did you know they call flip flops thongs?" or "In Australia, cotton candy is called fairy floss!" It's little things like that that will stay with me and every camper forever.
Now, being a counselor and having the opportunity to really get to know each staff member on a more personal level, the importance of these internationals is tremendous. Words can't even begin to express how much I learn every day from them, whether they be from Australia, England, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, etc. It's not an everyday thing where you can walk down the street at home and hear a different form of "hello" in 13 different accents, but camp is different. Camp is the place where these staff members can share their lives with us and campers. They live for the stories they get to tell and the different phrases they can teach their campers. The average American kid can't go around telling their friends that they had "Vegemite," but here at ISTC, they can. Not only do these counselors teach, but they also learn. They learn about American culture and history, schooling, language, you name it, they learn it. It is safe to say that each staff member brings their own uniqueness to this camp and this place wouldn't be the same without them.