Lost at Home


New Kid on the Same Block  

Instead of stepping off the bus like I did for the past 8 years,  I stepped out of my parents car that first day of camp.  My 9th summer was here, first one as a counselor and my chance to give a group of girls the best summer of their lives. Orientation was upon me but the last thing I wanted to do was meet new people and open up.  I couldn’t wait to see my old friends and to spend another summer at home.  My brother previously worked at camp and told me before I left, “Perri, be friends with the other counselors, trust me, if you hang with just former campers your summer will suck”.

Shortly after turning 18 and fresh out of high school, being a counselor was my first real job, besides babysitting.  Not only was I working with strangers but I was living under the same roof as them.  On the first day, everyone started talking, introducing themselves and getting to know each other.  I shly introduced myself, thinking about how weird and foreign these people were and how much I didn’t want to be friends with them.

Later that day, talking with my friends we gossiped about all of our co-counselors, comparing stories about who had weirder people.  As everyone spoke I couldn’t help but think back to my bunks introuductions, everyone was actually normal, so why did I not want to be friends with them?  Was it the thought that I would lose my friends by making new ones? Maybe it was the fear that my older co-workers wouldn’t respect my ideas becuase I was younger.  Or was it the rumors I heard about how much international staff hated former camper counselors?  Nontheless I shook the thoughts in my head away and ignored what my gut was telling me.   This was my home I told myself, the place where I grew up and made lifetime friends.  There wasn’t a need for more.

The Breaking Point

As the first few days of camp went on I still kept my distance from the other counselors in my bunk.  One night, Harriet, a counselor in my bunk from England, made a joke to one of the campers.  The joke was funny, it was something I would of said but the camper didn’t laugh and I could fell the pain and embarresment Harriet was feeling.  Quickly I realized that Harriet and I were the same, with similar senses of humor we wanted to make our campers feel safe and at home.  I went over to both of them, added to the joke and we all started laughing.  Later on Harriet spoke to me, thanking me and I could tell how sincere and genuine she was.  Little did I know that moment gave me a friend of a lifetime.

The article, Why Being Vulnerable Will Open Your Life to New Experiences, reminds us to not care about being cool.  If you want to do something, do it because that is what you want, do what makes you happy.  When I heard Harriet joke around with the campers it made me realize we were similar.  I didn’t only have to be friends with the people I grew up with at camp.  Just because they weren’t expanding their circle of friends didn’t mean I couldn’t.  I was scared what they might think if I became friends with international people, limiting my growth as a person and my ability to feel safe at camp.

A Summer to Remember

Not only did I make new friends but I also matured and grew as a person.  This was my summer going into freshman year of college so I was shelterd and hadn’t done much for myself.  The article, 3 Ways Working at Camp Benefits Teens, discusses how you grow and mature as a person by working at camp.  If i stayed in my group and didn’t expand my circle of friends I would of been the same, close minded person going into college.  Camp allowed me to be open to others and also hold myself accountable for my actions.  I was the oldest person I was living with and had to make sure the kids did what they had to do.  I had to hold myself to a higher standard so that my kids could respect and look up to me.


8 thoughts on “Lost at Home

  1. Making new friends is really hard for me. I’m always most comfortable with the people I already know. It really does take a vulnerable moment to connect with people, especially in a situation where there’s lots of rumors and expectations flying about. You really put yourself out there!

  2. Hey Perri,
    I must say that I a fairly envious of you, I never had the chance to go to camp as a kid and while I loved spending the summers at my local pool, I would have really enjoyed that experience. I have heard from many people that some of their best friends to this day are the ones they made at camp and the ability to open up and make new friends is a skill that will help you for many years to come.

    1. It’s funny that you say that because my dad went to camp as a kid and is still super close with his friends. My sister’s roomate is her best friend from camp and many of my best friends today are my camp friends. I think the fact that you live with the same group of people for 7 weeks, 24/7 and for 8 years allows a connection like no other. Seeing it from a counselor perspective, it’s incredible watching people grow up first hand and being apart of it

  3. I’ve always wanted to go to camp as a kid, it always looked like my friends had so much fun at them. Making new friends and leaving others behind is okay. I’ve had to do it and I was very happy with my decision. This is the age we figure ourselves out and who we want to surround ourselves with.

    1. I totally agree, if friends are controlling you and your decisions then they arent real friends. In life we need to surround ourselves with people who are going to be supportive. Making new friends is tough especially as we get older but worth it

  4. I’ve never gone to camp or been a camp counselor, but I always wanted to! It seems like it would be so fun and you’d get to meet a lot of new people. Making friends can be a struggle, and it can be especially hard to get out of our comfort zones, however it can also be extremely rewarding! It’s so awesome that you were able to put yourself out there and it paid off!

  5. It definitely is rewarding going outside of our boundaries and connecting with others who are different from us. Different in scope, perspective, religion, ethnicity, you name it. In those times, as you alluded, we grow as people and realize that the tiny bubble we live in is indeed tiny and if we just take that one step and put ourselves out there – who knows what the result with be. Fortunate for you, a lifetime friend came about.

  6. I never ended up going to camps of any kinda but that sounds like a really rewarding experience. I really liked reading about the positive results of you pushing and expanding your boundaries. It can be so hard for us to move beyond our comfort zones.

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