by Margaret Stockard
The new year is upon us and for many students, this is the home stretch toward graduation. Many are wondering just what the heck they are going to do with their final summer before “adulthood” sets in and everything changes. To some, internships become an integral part of the agenda, as many students think it’s the best way to be prepared for a chosen career path. And while there is nothing wrong with an internship, Katie Piscopia would argue that being a camp counselor could possibility teach you more about yourself than time spent in an office. She is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh and has written an article about her time as a camp counselor and the things it has taught her about herself, her interests, her abilities, and what she wants to pursue. You can view her article here:
Life is a pretty huge thing. It’s full of choices, adversities, opportunities, and adventures; and sometimes it’s hard to figure out just what you are supposed to do. My story is a bit of a unique one. I didn’t necessarily follow the four-year-plan, as I was in and out of various universities in a few different states. I had things I enjoyed doing, but I didn’t have anything I knew I wanted to do as a career. I was an English major so writing, reading, and grammar were things I loved. My mother used to tell me that I should be a teacher but at the time, standing in front of crowds petrified me. School projects, presentations, answering phones, even ordering food at restaurants…I might as well have been in a horror film, because certain public interactions scared me to death. So I pretty much swore off being a teacher. It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that things suddenly changed. I was living in Vermont and desperately in need of a summer job. My classmate and friend told me about a camp counselor position that was open at a summer camp in Maine and said that I should apply. I didn’t think too much of it but I was in dire need of something and being a camp counselor sounded like fun. I was hired to work at Camp Kippewa that summer and things were never the same after that.
This upcoming summer of 2015 will be my 7th summer at the camp. It’s no longer just a métier; it’s a home. It was indeed fun. It was also very hard work. You’re in charge of various groups of people, working long hours and pretty much on-call all day and night. You’re planning lessons on the good days and fly-by-your-seaters on the unpredicted ones. I was forced out of my comfort zone and every year I was asked to do a little bit more. I now lead groups of people ranging from 10 to 180 with ease. I know what it’s like to be in a crisis situation, handle conflicts, manage young people and peers, work alongside a team, create strategies, and be me. (I also know the words to more One Direction and Taylor Swift songs than I dare count, but…that’s beside the point). In this time, I have learned more about myself, including my strengths and weaknesses and the passions I never even knew I had, than with anything else I’ve done. But I was learning these things even after my first summer.
It will change you. And you will change others. You will walk away with great memories. You will walk away with lifelong friendships with campers and peers all over the world. You will have spent a swell summer in the trees. Those things are all substantial. But you’ll also walk away with a little bit more insight into just who you are. For me, that lesson was priceless.