As counsellors, we’ve all had to answer this question, “How long have you been coming/working at camp?”. No need to tell you how often we’re asked. When I’m asked, I often answer “argh… too long”. Actually, too long for the people around me to find it normal. That question always brings me to ask myself, “Have I really been at camp too long or am I just answering what other people would like to hear? Am I afraid to be judged by others? Whatever the reason, my answer remains the same, despite the “You’re still working there? You’re wasting your time!” and the “When are you going to find a real adult job?!?” Trust me, that is often the reaction from people who have never lived the camp experience.
In fact, like for many of you, camp changed my life. Whether we are campers or counsellors, at camp, we learn to be a better person in all kinds of ways – when on a wilderness expedition, when everything is going perfectly, when life flows on smoothly like the canoes gliding on the water, when we laugh with friends, when the sun warms our faces, when our discussions are as enriching as they can be silly! On rainy days, we learn to outdo ourselves, to reach our goal!
We learn to support one another, and we learn to accept that encouragement! Life in a group is likely the most profound learning experience there is! Knowing how to speak up when times are tough; knowing how to listen when the other person needs to let off some steam; knowing how to express a dissatisfaction or a difficulty with a clear intent, without hurting others in the process; learning to laugh without fear of being judged; learning to cry without hiding when everything seems impossible; and if we learn to offer a shoulder to cry on, we also learn to ask for one when we need it.
Camp also opens our eyes about teamwork, task sharing, organisation, initiative, priority management, safety, differences, inclusion, sharing someone else’s burden once in a while and knowing how to let the others do the same for us; live with our eyes wide open, appreciate each moment and, most importantly, respect each other! In two words, the camp experience is for me about growing and learning how to be authentic!
So, why hide the fact that I work in a fabulous place because I fear the judgment of others. I prefer to keep my human job instead of finding myself an “adult job”. I want to learn to be a better human being, not learn to be an adult. I firmly believe we have a lot to learn from the kids and young people, and we can teach them a lot in return. Together we become better humans and I think that my place is at camp.
From now on, I will answer the question “How long have you been at camp?” with – “Not long enough…”.