By Juliet Bourke
I know that spending two and a half months working as a camp counsellor at a Girl Scout Camp sounds a lot like getting paid to be a big kid, but I promise, it’s real work – and it’s real hard. Between trying to motivate girls to climb a mountain with promises of amazing views and chocolate, to coaxing them across a high ropes course or trying to distract from their home sickness, being a camp counsellor is hard. Each day brings a new challenge, and that’s not even including the lack of privacy, the early starts or the late nights. But I loved almost every second of it. And the ones I didn’t only helped to make me stronger, to show where my strengths lie and to show which kind of situations and people that bring out the best in me. My first ever week at camp I was thrown in at the deep end, and I mean that literally – I was trained as a lifeguard, so now I’m armed with new skills applicable in and out of the lake. The next week was even more training to prepare us for what was soon to be the busiest, funniest, hardest, messiest, wettest and hottest seven weeks of my life. Then came the children. It was daunting at first. To know that when their parents waved goodbye, they were my responsibility. Not only did I have to keep their daughter happy, healthy and alive, but I had to ensure she had the best week ever, the kind that makes a summer, the kind filled with fun, laughter, new experiences and new faces. And over those seven weeks, I realised that not only could I be a counsellor, I could be a really great counsellor if I made the most of every second I spent in those woods. Camp life was varied, and I found it best to make myself useful. To name a few of my roles this summer I went from being a lifeguard, to an archery instructor to a handyman when the water heater broke in the staff house, to a canoe instructor when I lead a two-day canoe trip to a fairy princess when we had a Disney themed dinner. So whilst you’re bound to find your inner child at camp and learn a lot about yourself when you’re stuck in the middle of the woods without much access to the outside world. I learned a whole lot more about myself. I learned that I could lead a group, I could make decisions under pressure, I could do things even though I was absolutely terrified (looking at you high ropes course) and I had more skills than I originally thought. So, here’s to a great summer, and here’s to nine weeks in the woods, 1,200+ campers, three weeks as trip staff and one week as a lifeguard. It was hard, it was sweaty, but it was worth it – even if only for the friends and memories I made.
Here are the links to my camp and camp america: