As the school year starts to come to an end, every teacher’s favorite question starts bouncing around the halls, “what are you going to do this summer?” The majority of the answers are along the lines of traveling, family vacation, relaxing, etc. Yet, there is no one who loves that question more than me. At any possible time, I always jump at the opportunity to discuss my plans to be a part of the ELC family. The odd part (to me) is that I am constantly getting awkward stares and curled lips of repulsion as a response. They are followed up with questions like “Why do you continue to work at camp after 10 grueling months of teaching a classroom full of overly energized 10 year olds?” or “Didn’t you become a teacher so that you could have the 2 months of summer off?” And much like the “How Much do I Make?” teaching video, here’s my response to you…
It’s not work.
Yes, I get paid… Yes, I pour my heart and soul into it… Yes, I get frustrated and stressed at times… but it’s still not work, not to me.
It’s cliché and some may even say it’s annoying when people use the quote “If you love what you do, you don’t work a day of your life.” Yet, for those two months that is exactly how I feel (and I’m not alone). It’s very comparable to the kids getting excited for school to let out and let camp roll in… I share that same excitement and enthusiasm. The excitement stems from the campers’ smiling faces, sharing hugs with the counselors I haven’t seen since it all ended last summer and the overall fulfillment that comes with it. As camp administrators and counselors, we live by the motto “10 for 2.” We bust our backs for 10 months of the year, so that we can love and appreciate those 2 months of camp…because to us, it’s not work.
As a counselor, I have witnessed and felt incredible changes in those short two months. I have seen campers grow and transform for the better. For example, there are always a few quiet and reserved caterpillars that change into the social butterfly by the end of summer. I have observed camp friendships form in the most unlikely places. For campers and counselors alike, there are not many more rewarding and “growing up” experiences than camp. It puts everybody into situations where competition and decision-making help to mold their individualized character. When it comes to things like Color War, it’s amazing to see people start to understand the perks of hard work and how that dedication can give right back. It’s what the camp experience is all about…growing and changing to become better people. The involvement in something so special makes it like a family, not work.
Finally, camp is fun. It’s the pool wibits on a hot Florida summer day. It’s sports leagues under the stars. It’s having camp chef when your hunger starts to kick in. It’s seeing creativity come pouring out of Arts and Crafts. It’s “tell me something good” after a rough day. It’s seeing white and blue merge after a long week of color war competitions. Camp is one of those things that from the outside, it’s hard to understand and from the inside, it’s hard to explain…so excuse me when I say, it’s definitely not work.