Hey Camp George!
Each summer, our senior staff (two or more years on staff) have the pleasure of watching our junior staff (first year staff) join the team and grow into amazing leaders. While we know that all our staff learn a lot and develop many new skills, this is especially true of our first year staff. Wanting to share an inside look into what it’s like to be a first year staff member, I spoke with ten first year staff members to get their reflections on their first summer as staff.
In the last reflection we heard from Ethan Yolleck – a Swim Specialist, before that, Jen Cooper -a Nitzotzot counselor, Jack Iwrey -a Sail Specialist, and Esty Fisher a Nitzotzot counselor. Today, Leah Stall, a Nitzotzot counselor is sharing her reflection on working with the youngest campers in camp and how this experience taught her about patience and responsibility. This is our fifth look into the life of a first year staff member.
– Jane HK
In Leah’s words:
My experience being a first year staff was like no other. This summer has taught me so much about responsibility, to have plenty of patience, and to build a strong support system between co-staff. As a staff member for the first time, I got a really great understanding of what it means to be responsible. I had 13 lives I was caring for and I had to do whatever it took to keep them safe and happy throughout their time at Camp George.
I have also come to realize that especially with the younger campers that I had to be extremely patient with them, simply because they depended on me for everything and it was up to me to fulfill their needs. I believe the most important thing I learned this summer was to create a strong bond and relationship with who I was working with. It was extremely important that I could turn to my co-staff if there was a problem or if I needed help managing the campers. They let me be the best staff member I could be, because of their support. Through all of the things I have learned, I’ve built many skills.
Due to my new-found patience, I have improved my listening skills which have helped me comfort campers who are homesick or nervous to try new things. Another skill I have developed is good decision making. As a counselor, I was caught in many unexpected situations and I had to make good decisions quickly on my feet. Being a staff member for the first time was much different than I had expected it to be. It was different in the way that I had control over the campers and there was no one telling me where to go or what to do. I had to become self-reliant and organized so that I could do the best at my job.
My experience first session with girls was for the most part easy going, because the girls were so sweet and really bonded together. Second Session, I was placed as a male counselor, to provide extra support to the youngest boys on camp, and that experience was completely different. My boys were so full of energy and were always on the go. I didn’t realize the difference between 8 year old boys and 8 year old girls was so big, but I definitely had a blast with the boys!
Needless to say I had a great time with both groups of campers. At times it was stressful, as a first year staff , but it was very rewarding for me. I taught 4 girls how to ride a bike and they all succeeded. Another time I got one of my boys to go water skiing, when he was terrified, it turned out he had a blast and didn’t even fall once. It is times like that when I am so proud of my campers. All in all, I had a great experience filled with some tears and many more laughs. I have taken away a ton from this summer and I hope one day my campers will experience what I have.
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