As many of you know, I’m a recent college graduate who chose to come back to camp at the very last minute after taking two years off. This is going to be a very candid post about my journey in deciding to come back to Camp Alleghany for Girls this summer…so hang on!
The Summers Off
After having reliably been at camp for eight years, two years ago, I had to make the unfortunate decision to take the summer off from camp in order to take some classes. This wasn’t a choice I made lightly.
As I sat in a classroom all summer, I was devastated when I saw pictures of my friends at ‘Ghany who were clearly having the time of their lives.
The next summer, I was offered an internship position in New York City where I worked at Luxe Magazine as a marketing intern. This was something that I definitely couldn’t turn down, but I still dreamed about my days on the Greenbrier River.
My Snap Decision
As I approached graduation this year, I was beginning to feel unsure of what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I have a Communication Studies degree, so I was tirelessly scouring the Internet for job postings for entry-level marketing, public relations, and advertising gigs, but nothing caught my eye. (I would later realize that I was in no way ready to begin life as an adult.)
I emailed Camp Alleghany’s Program Director, Taylor Fellows long after hiring had ended for Summer 2016, to see if there was anything available for the summer. Luckily for me, a position called Start-Up Mom had not been filled (thanks, T!)
I have spent the past few summers at Alleghany as a busy Senior Camp Counselor, so this new role, which is more of a mentoring position rather than being a Tent Counselor, was a welcome change.
As the Start-Up Mom, my main priority is the well-being of all 12-year-old campers. I literally get paid to have fun with them — what the what?! I spend my days planning different bonding activities that bring the group together, as well as talking about leadership with them since they are the oldest campers in Junior Camp. On top of that, I also work with the Start-Up Counselors to make sure that everyone is working cohesively and that there are no problems (and there never are, which makes my job easy!).
I was a little nervous at first because it has been five years since I was a Junior Camp Counselor, but the Start-Ups of Junior Camp welcomed me back with open arms!
A Place To Think
I don’t think I can stress enough how important it is to take time to yourself after graduation. After the endless pace, and sometimes burnout, of four years of lectures, exams, and papers in college, thinking solely about making a definitive career move immediately is daunting and, in the job market, not always realistic.
I felt that burnout and stress, making camp seem like a great, albeit temporary, next step before immediately jumping into a career.
Fortunately, my parents were extremely supportive of my decision to take some time off and figure out my next move.
I came to camp looking for an escape from the so-called real world, but I got something so much better. My 36 First Term Start-Ups were some of the most entertaining, caring, and enthusiastic campers that I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know, and I had the time of my life getting to know them (even if it was just for a shortened two weeks due to the historic West Virginia flood that hit camp!). Their thoughtful and spirited demeanor inspired me to make the most of my time here.
If any soon-t0-be graduates and camp alums are reading this, definitely consider coming back…even as a guest counselor! I learned so much during my time away from camp, and these experiences definitely benefited my education and career paths. But it is so nice to be back in the home-away-from-home that is Camp Alleghany, and to integrate the education, skills development, and larger responsibilities that being a return Counselor with an enlarged role provides.
‘Ghany has a way of allowing for some much needed space away from the so-called “real world” and of welcoming you back, even if it’s been a few years. It also has a way of sending you back to the so called “real world” with real world abilities that solidly equip you for fresh challenges in the larger job market.
I’m so happy that this is what I’ve done this summer! Thank you Camp Alleghany!
– Charlotte Robins, Junior Camp Unit Head and Start-Up Mom, Camp Alleghany for Girls