By Zachary Goldberger, Returning Counselor and Cornerstone Fellow
There is something about cleaning a wet bed or getting the ‘who-knows-what’ off the floor that bonds two people together. Even by just having to be around another person for the entire week of staff week creates an adhesive bond between people. And of course beyond that, those bonds are built even stronger by spending six weeks together counseling children and coaching sport majors. Being a camp counselor is something I value a
nd do for the experience and the positive impact I can make on the kids. I also do it for the ability I have to make connections with people I have only known for a short period of time.
The first day of staff week is always the most awkward, just as the first day of camp for the campers can be awkward as well. You see the counselors from last summer, cliques of the same bunk or active group together, and tiny communities are built within a larger one. It is the community of the new counselors, or the ‘fresh meat’ of the group, that are the one to embrace. They do not know anyone or know what is going on. The only thing they know is either the voice of the camp director from a phone interview or the fuzzy picture of a few leadership member’s faces from a few Skype calls. It is only after the first all-staff meeting that something truly unspeakable happens, everyone becomes… friends. Each year that I come back as a counselor, I try to pinpoint the moment it happens, but I never can. This is such a big reason why your friendships at camp are so much more than just for the summer.
Connections are made left and right as soon as things start off, some more serious than others, and this is what makes a long summer fun and exciting. Whether it be your dorm co-counselor, one in your activity, or just the person you had to do awkward things with for an ice breaker, the camp atmosphere creates a community like no other. Your friends at home do not understand, and your friends at school cannot wrap their minds around it. Each camp has their own way to make these bonds, and each camp has their own unique way of doing things to create this community.
When camp takes off, your friendship heightens each day. Whether you spend time together on your hour off or plan an entire day off together, it is hard to make an enemy out of a friend in a camp atmosphere. All during the summer, things go as normally as they would at home because this is your home-away-from-home. When the summer is over, what is to come of this close bond you made? Nothing changes of course.
Being a staff returner, I have had staff come visit me at football games, friends live close enough to make a weekend trip, and so many other memories. I know now that I have a home when I go to an Arkansas football game, a house to use when I’m in Israel, someone to experience a weekend in Indiana with, and a reason to take a trip down to Kansas or south Florida without any hesitation. There is just something about camp that creates such a tight-knit bond with people of all different cultures, locations, and personalities in a short period of time with no questions asked.