Since we still have some openings for Hoppers in both camp terms, I thought I’d take a moment to explain why this opportunity is such a great one (and a fun one) for Upstarts.
It was a really long time ago ;), but once upon a time, I too was a ‘Ghany Hopper. At that age I just remember really bonding with my fellow Hoppers and getting to know them even better through the context of some shared work.
And it was fun!
I loved serving Junior Camp, and in those self-conscious days of being a teenager, I saw a distinct advantage to going up and down the stairs from the kitchen and back — it was always a great workout.
But looking back I see that it was about so much more than playing waitress in a red apron. Really, it was the beginning of my “official” leadership training at ‘Ghany, just as it is for any camper today.
Being a Hopper offered an introduction to working with Junior Campers, which taught me a sense of pre-counselor responsibilities right from the start. I was setting an example for those younger campers, and wanted to be worthy of their respect. I also had to set my alarm to get up earlier than the rest of camp, not dilly-dally during meals, and be fully prepared by the time the bell rang.
The cleanup afterward was also a big deal, and couldn’t be rushed. It made me a good worker at camp, taught me to be more helpful back at home, and helped make me a good roommate in college. To this day I’m big on clearing my dinner table and cleaning every last crumb up in my own house!
Why be a Hopper?
There’s many reasons to be a Hopper that campers and parents can appreciate. They include:
- It’s a fun bonding experience.
- You get to know the kitchen staff very well.
- You get to know another side of camp – how the kitchen and dining hall operate (younger campers don’t really think about behind-the-scenes stuff that makes camp run – it just “magically” happens).
- Younger campers always look up to the Hoppers, so it feels good to finally be one.
- It’s a great way to feel like you’re helping out the camp community.
- It’s somewhat similar to being a restaurant server, so it can be a good skill and resume-builder.
But there’s also a leadership component that includes:
- Learning time management. You must be on time to meals, eat earlier than the rest of camp, and free time is more limited so you have to plan it well (similar to counselors).
- Must eat in a timely manner and then get your tables set and everything ready before the bell rings to signify meal time for the camp.
- Must show responsibility by remembering the appropriate shoes, having hair pulled back at all times, and focusing on the work.
- You’re responsible for your shift so you have to remember to get a substitute if you can’t hop a meal (e.g. if you’re not feeling well) – you can’t just leave the group hanging to cover your tables.
- Learning and practicing efficiency by making the most of the time you have; learning to set your tables, get everything prepared, serve, and clean up in the most efficient way possible.
- Accepting hard work! It’s fun, but the physical work and time commitment can be tiring at times. Being a Hopper helps you learn to put others’ needs before your own, and keeping a smile on even when you’re tired.
Fortunately during this grueling ordeal (just kidding) you feel the camaraderie of being part of a small working group. This can be great fun when you’re talking with the other Hoppers about some challenge or confusion experienced during the shift.
Bang on the dot!
Being a Hopper also really prepares you for future work. Yet few workplaces get their own song! And yes, there is a special song for the Hoppers!
Hoppers sing this tune a few times per session in each Dining Hall (Junior and Senior) with the added bonus of beating on their trays during the “bang-bang” part:
We are the Hoppers, alrighty!
Working all day and all nighty.
Doing our job and doing it righty.
Hop! Hop! Hop! (bang-bang-bang-bang)
Hoppers are guided by a Head Hopper each term. Sometimes it’s a different Head each year, and sometimes the same person returns for a few years in a row. This summer it’s camp mom and alumnae Jane Anne McJunkin Randolph for 1st term, and returning for a 2nd year is alumnae Jen Peirson.
Upstarts who are interested in being a Hopper this year should email me as soon as possible to get on the list. Taking the initiative in this way can help frame a camper’s aim to be a JC and then a counselor by stepping up to a leadership role early.
And did I mention it’s fun? It really, really is very fun! Hop! Hop! Hop!
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls