As Upstart camper Chloë Cook recently wrote, when the end of term comes, it’s hard to say good-bye. Anyone who’s finished up a Sixteen year knows that pang all too well.
Some of these former campers go on to become JCs, Counselors or other staff members and then they experience camp in a whole new way. Yet even as they work for the camp, the very nature of camp is that it’s a human experience, with all kinds of adventures in relating to each other. Which means that counselors have their difficulty in saying good-bye, too.
So at the end of first term this year I asked the counselors to write down their fondest memories from camp as a way of savoring their own time here. I’ve pulled a few to give you a taste of their experience this year.
Claire Bresee loves teaching and learning from her campers. She writes, “I loved the look on my campers’ faces when they shot off out of a rifle position or when they finished their dance or drama performances.”
There’s something wonderful about some of the more “secret” elements of camp that almost no one can resist. “My favorite memory was JC initiation,” writes Randall Ackerly. Those of you who have been there will know what she means! 😉
Being active and excited is something we all get into at camp. It’s something we do so often that in some ways it’s just a way of life here. But if you step back and take a look, you see there’s something fascinating about all that energy. Marsha F. writes about how she loved seeing, “Unit 4 getting ready for Crab Soccer. The girls moving and grooving and stretching to the music was fantastic!”
Being a counselor is like being a mom in a way. All your campers are “yours” and their victories are your victories to enjoy, too. Lizzy Timms thought the best moment was, “When my camper won happiest camper!”
Tucker Griffin looked to the basics with awe. She says that, “My campers being champs during the storm,” was her best memory. And what a powerful memory, too. All that wind, the heat and then the rapid cold and then no power…Being a champ during that event awed us all!
Details, details, that’s the way Georgie O’Toole thinks. She writes,
My favorite memory of first term is the time drama staff ate dinner with the hoppers. After a frantic meal, during which nobody talked because we were in such a rush, Junior Camper Anne Elizabeth piped up out of nowhere — ‘I get really motion sick on long car journeys and my sister makes fun of me.’ We all continued eating on in silence. LOL!
Our campers are the world to us. Maggie Neff felt this acutely saying that her favorite thing was, “Having an amazing set of campers both in tent and in activities. They inspired me to strive to do my best and set a good example.”
But it’s not all breezy good times. After all, a lot can come up in three weeks. Still, there are reasons to treasure even difficult moments. “My favorite moment was when one of my campers broke down,” says Abi Edwards. “I got to have a real counselor moment and make her smile and feel better about herself.”
Maddie Palmer had a similar experience, writing that she was moved when, “My camper wrote about how I made her feel better in her Vespers note.”
But things can be very light while also being very memorable. Take Katie Tingle’s experience for example. She loved her campers’ “intense, unrelenting, unceasing love of Justin Bieber.” She says it was, “matched only by their love of Jess (one of the heads of Junior Camp), which, given how much they loved The Bieb, is kind of sweet.”
All good things come to an end though. Katie St. George says her fondest memory was, ” That last day and night of camp when my campers gave me cards saying how much the loved me and that they thought I was a great counselor. I almost started crying…”
The last night is bittersweet, but not always tearful. “My favorite memory is the last night of camp with my campers huddled in our tent in the rain, but laughing the hardest we had laughed all term.”
Making memories is fun, and sad, and bittersweet, and hilarious, and above all, worthwhile. Thank you to all our first term counselors for all your creative, loving, and devoted work.
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Camp Alleghany for Girls