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.