And this year they learned things they’ve never learned before. That’s because this year they were both counselors rather than campers, with a whole new experience of what camp is.
Of course, to me, Anwyn and Chloë are still just my babies, even if they’re my working babies.
I’m watching them grow and take on new challenges and roles in life, but at the end of the day, looking through my mom glasses, I’m evaluating how the experience stretched them, shaped them, and moved them along the path of maturity and increased independence that all moms want for their kids.
And to that end I couldn’t be happier about their time this past summer at Camp Alleghany in their new positions — Chloë as a Junior Counselor very involved with rifle, and Anwyn a counselor who taught Arts & Crafts all summer.
The first thing I’ll say is that one should never underestimate the power of nature — and time away from electronics — as a force for good in your child’s life, even when those children are 17 and 19.
I read recently that after two nights in a wilderness setting the body recalibrates to the circadian rhythms of nature, providing invisible but perceptible realms of healing for people.
Now I didn’t dig down into all the science but intuitively that feels right. Both girls appear to have brought home from camp a groundedness that emanates with a natural harmony. They keep a more regular schedule (no late owls and observing regular meal habits), and are far from dependent on “screens” and texting but rather seem to have all that in pretty good balance.
Did they “suffer” not having access to their phones and computers most every day? Not at all. Instead Chloë seems to be singing and playing her guitar more than ever and Anwyn is churning out art and writing every day.
A lot less ‘tude
But more than the wonderful habits — made beds, laundry days, on-time to things — both girls seem to have internalized that doing work is about:
- Meeting your personal responsibilities
- Being accountable to a team
- Seeing the bigger picture
- Bringing personal creativity to problem solving
All of the above accomplishments are about more than just performing “tasks” for a “boss.” The girls did feel accountable to camp as their employer, but they also seem to have developed a little better sense that they’re not in a me-first universe and so accept chores and home assignments with a better attitude.
Maybe they get now that setting the table or clearing it only really takes 3-5 minutes. Or that vacuuming and tidying the living and dining room really only amounts to 15 minutes if you’re focused. Compared to nearly 24-7 counseling, that’s nothing!
I’m not trying to be selfish here in noting that my on-site child labor force — 🙂 — has returned home more willing to pick up the dust mop and empty the trash without complaining or cutting corners.
More importantly I see that all of this will make them better college roommates, better housemates, better workers in jobs they’ll have one day and so…better able to enter into the adult world really, truly, fully, capable of both understanding their responsibilities and meeting them.
A college degree supplement
I urge moms and dads everywhere to consider the vast educational benefits that a camp job offers. In the end the counselor comes home with a bit of a paycheck but also with a lesson in the working world that can’t be found in places where you check in and check out while still maintaining your regular life.
Here the combination of nature’s healing benefits, a little screen withdrawal, and lots of responsibilities all within a safe and healthy environment full of singing, mirth, laughter, bonding, tasks, creativity, challenges, round-the-clock obligations, and let’s just say it — very few boys — makes for a summer you couldn’t pay for! And in this case you get paid.
Thank you, Camp Alleghany!
And to think the whole time I also got “me time.” — read books, made art, ate leftovers, vacationed, enjoyed silence, enjoyed uninterrupted time with my hubby, and took time off from “mama’s cab service.”
I call that a win-win. Not bad!
Your daughter can apply to work next summer at Camp Alleghany here.
— Lindsay Curren, Parent, Camp Alleghany for Girls