17 4 / 2012
"If you ever get the chance to see a camp counselor at work, you’ve seen one of the world’s many unrecognized superheroes. Camp counselors are a particular breed of humans. We are ordinary people in a new and extraordinary situation known as, camp. A camp counselor is a slew of professions thrown together. We are thrown in the middle of nowhere and told to do the impossible- manage a group of children for a few days with little supplies, few staff, and next to no pay.
We are teachers, instructing naïve city-slicker-campers how to navigate the unknown territory known as “nature”. We are therapists, comforting the homesick kids and attempting to bring forth the inner young adults inside. We are janitors, cleaning the most disgusting of outhouses. We are expert outdoorsmen, managing to keep a group of campers alive in the woods for a few days. We are naturalists, identifying every plant, bug, fish, twig, and pebble the campers stubble upon. We are repair men, patching a hole in the tent or a leaky pipe in the shower house. We are doctors, from scraped knees to the flu to sunburns galore- we have seen it all and cured it all. We are entertainers, writing and performing numerous songs and skits to captivate the campers. We are also balls of energy. Despite how exhausted we may be, we put on a cheerful face and push through the pain. Somehow every morning at camp we lace up our boots, bandage our blisters, and sing another song for the umpteenth time. No matter how long the work hours or how obnoxious the campers we have a driving need to come back every summer. We give up modern necessities, family vacations, and hanging out with friends for early mornings, screaming scouts, and a scratchy voice. Being a camp counselor means working twenty-four hour shifts, sacrificing your health for the campers, and skipping a shower here and there. By the end of the summer, the thought of air conditioning and cable sounds like a dream, but every one chokes back a tear or two as they turn the corner on the last day, and hit the highway heading home whispering to the summer breeze, “I’ll be back soon."