My Experience as a Camp Counselor

Choosing to be a camp counselor is quite possibly the best decision I’ve made. The work started as soon as I arrived to the campsite. The counselors only had a week to prepare the entire camp as well as complete our training. By the time the campers arrived the counselors and administration staff had been living in close quarters for a week and I thought I had everything and everyone figured out.

The campers changed everything. Everyone was nervous and the protocol we had worked so hard to learn suddenly seemed impossible. The new counselors were scrambling for help, and everyone was exhausted after the first day. By the second day people began to regain their footing and by day three we had found our stride. It was incredible to see this group of young counselors change entirely around the campers. They brought out the best in all of us. As I got to know each individual camper, I felt completely inspired and realized that my initial desire to return to camp simply to continue going to camp, was misguided. Being a camp counselor was to benefit campers, with no other reason.

My summer camp is a disabilities camp for children living with Type 1 Diabetes. It’s the same as any other summer camp, but with a focus on living with a chronic illness. As a camper, camp taught me new strategies for treating my diabetes. It helped me feel normal and took away some of the constant fear and anxiety that accompanies being chronically ill. As a counselor, I learned to be proud of my diabetes. This was entirely because of the campers. Seeing such young kids be so responsible and positive with something so frustrating and dangerous, inspired me to be responsible and positive as well. As counselors, we were told that we were the examples for what “successfully living with diabetes” looks like. But it was the campers who set the example. Being a camp counselor is all about being inspired on a daily basis by kids too young to realize their impact. Whether the campers live with a chronic condition or not, it takes a special kind of person to leave home for 2 weeks with no knowledge of what may happen. The bravery they show each day for those 2 weeks, leaves me feeling fulfilled for the remaining 50. 

I will always love camp and all of it’s crazy inspiration. To quote one of my campers, “If someone calls you weird, respond with a firm thank you!” So, thank you camp for being so incredibly awesome and for helping me to embrace my “weird”.