There is no way for me to get through a day without using a skill I learned at camp. Some skills, like how to build a fire or tying a knot, seem practical when you learn them. Others you have no idea you’re learning, but then you surprise yourself with an ability, like being able to entertain a roomful of kids with the Alligator song or feeling comfortable talking to someone about God. Camp skills have been vital to me whenever I am, and that has continued to be true as I’ve started my new job as an Actuarial Analyst in Boston.
I started going to camp as a Challenger (7th & 8th grade) – a time in my life when I was desperately longing to belong somewhere. I found that and so much more at camp. I was accepted not because I acted, spoke, or dressed a certain way, but simply for being 100% me. As I continued coming back in the following years, completed CILT, and began on staff as a counselor, it was amazing to see women who had been my counselors and cabinmates check in on me year to year and care so deeply about my growth. Camp has profoundly affected my faith, and God has used his creation in that place to wow me with just how magnificent he is.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to work as a Pathfinder (2nd-4th grade) counselor in between college graduation and before starting my full-time job. (Pro tip: depending on your industry, many employers offer flexible start dates. If you can delay the start of your next job to work at camp, DO IT!) I cannot imagine a better way to prepare for a big transition. Working at camp is hard work, but it is easily the most rewarding job. While my day-to-day job is now at a desk, indoors, and with adults (all the exact opposite of this summer — you have to look pretty hard to find a desk at camp!), there are a number of lessons I learned camp that I’ve already been able to tap into at my 9 to 5!
How to Teach
Any position at camp comes with a fair deal of teaching. Some things I taught this summer were Bible Exploration (a time to dive into the Bible as a cabin or tent group), kayaking, synchronized swimming, and drama. During one week of synchronized swimming, we had some campers who were still working on floating. I can’t remember not being able to float or even having a hard time floating, so it was completely beyond me how to teach someone who couldn’t float. I think I told one camper, “Just think about it for a little bit!” Fortunately, our amazing waterfront director, Rosie, knew exactly how to break this process down into steps. When someone was struggling with one of the steps, she’d have a suggestion, like “Try it this way instead!” or “Think about ____ this time!” It was so cool to watch the power of good teaching in front of my eyes enable non-buoyant girls to be able to support themselves on the surface of the water in just a couple of days!
While I am not in a teaching profession, I am working in consulting, which means it is my job to explain technical processes to clients who may have a very different expertise than I do. Right now at work, I’m still learning a lot, and I’m very impressed with the teaching ability of some of my coworkers! I look forward to developing this skill more.
Being a camp counselor was my first job with an interview, supervisor, and performance review. Working at camp is a lot of fun, but it also is a real job. You will need to fill out an application on time, answer interview questions, fill out paperwork, go through a very rich training process (Cedarbrook’s pre-camp training is applicable to so many professions!), prepare for your first day, show up on time to daily meetings, set SMART goals with your supervisor, work on a schedule that you didn’t make for yourself, figure out how to use your time off to refresh, receive feedback on your work, manage your salary, and eventually, dig up your W-2 when you file your taxes. Camp is an excellent thing to keep on your resume — it’s always been my favorite thing to talk about in a job interview!
Working on a Team
Each Sunday at camp, you are faced with a new group of campers who come from a variety of backgrounds and come expecting a variety of experiences. One weekly experience counselors face is planning a Tuesday cookout. While your campers may not know each other’s names yet, some are very quick to vocalize their wishes for this legendary meal. All of a sudden, you’re trying to figure out how to find a happy agreement for the girl who insists s’macos are the only real dessert option at camp, the new camper who thinks the idea of putting marshmallows in a tortilla sounds disgusting (me once), and the camper who doesn’t like chocolate (yes, they exist).
Working on a team takes a lot of compromise and the willingness to pursue ideas other than the ones you came up with! Whether it’s with your cabin group, counselor division, activity co-leader, or all-camp committee, we’re always working with others at camp. It’s also so important to figure out how to utilize team members’ strengths and community well.
Everything I’m doing at my new job has a team aspect to it. Whether it’s passing off work to get reviewed by someone else or sitting down next to a coworker to tackle a difficult problem, there are always other people involved in my work! I’ve already been in situations where I’ve had to compromise an idea or method to try something the way someone else thinks is best. Often times, seeing someone else’s idea played out is a great way to learn! Camp was a great place to see examples of effective and love-filled team dynamics.
How to Make a Rainy Day Fun
We had some rainy days this summer at camp and to be honest, they can be tough! It’s hard to get warm, and there’s no way to stay dry for long, as most of our day is spent outside. Noses get sniffly, shoes get muddy, and floors get dirty. Despite these inconveniences, some of my favorite memories from this past summer happened under the pouring sky — a Pathfinder (2nd-4th grade)/Trailblazer (5th & 6th grade) singing-in-the-rain sesh that resulted in creating some new verses to a classic song, kayaking through spooky mist while looking for turtles that are more likely to come out when it rains, and doing a cozy Morning Watch in bed and getting that “lazy morning” feeling at the start of the day.
At work, I’m on the Fun Committee! Our goal is to engage the office in occasional fun events after work so we get to know each other better. Thanks to camp, I’ve got lots of experience with the process for planning and executing successful activities and analyzing them after to figure out how to make the next one more successful. I’ve always got great games and dinner table conversations in my back pocket and am excited to grow community in this new place!
I know there will be “rainy days” as I start this new position — there already have been a few fall storms! Additionally, there have been days where I feel confused, overwhelmed, or so full of questions I don’t know where to start. My attitude towards these days and willingness to make the best out of them can make a huge difference, and I hope to show those around me just how fun dancing in puddles can be.
I would not be who I am if it were not for my years at camp, and I’m grateful for the frequent I reminders I have of how powerful my summers there have been. I know the same God who watches over Davignon Pond is here with me in Boston. I’ve got a LOT to learn in my new position, but I am so glad for the foundation I’ve had going in. Hopefully at some point, I’ll get to teach my coworkers how to make s’macos!