by Jaci Ullrich, ’18 (Biology; Clear Lake, IA)
As someone who hasn’t had much of a chance to travel and explore new places, it was quite a big step for me to hop a plane for the first time and travel to New Hampshire to work as a counselor at an all-girls camp for 9 weeks this last summer. I was immersed in a new environment and surrounded by people from all over the world all the while training for a job that I have never done before. It was definitely overwhelming, but I was so busy having fun and learning new things that the adjustment was rather easy.
Within the first two weeks at Camp Robindel I was trained as a ropes and archery staff member, instructed on how to manage and interact with the campers, and assigned a group of girls that I would be living with for the next seven weeks. During this time, I was spending every minute of every day surrounded by the other staff members. Even though it was exhausting, the sense of community that we formed and the way we worked together with the campers were some of the best learning experiences that I have ever had.
While working at Robindel there were two main groups of staff members that I interacted with daily: the co-counselors that I shared a cabin with and the members of the ropes and archery staff that I was a part of. While working with these people I practiced valuable skills such as patience, adaptability, trust, and selflessness. As I learned to work well with my co-counselors, I found that using these traits brought out the best results in our ability to work as a team. Although these skills were crucial for me to really work well with the other staff at Robindel, it was also important to use these traits when working with the campers.
As a camp counselor, it was my job to act as a mentor toward the campers. Especially as part of the ropes staff, it was important for me to be positive and encouraging in order to help the girls push themselves and try new things outside of their comfort zone. It was amazing to see the growth in the campers throughout the course of the summer and to know that I was a part of that progress.
By the time summer came to a close I had developed valuable skills that I can apply to myself now and in the future, and I had built unforgettable relationships that will last a lifetime. I believe that this experience has helped me to become a more well-rounded student, friend, and mentor. Often times being a counselor was stressful and exhausting, but in the end I have realized that it was probably the best learning experience that I have ever had.