I honestly don’t think there’s a better person than me to talk about how attending camp can help someone become successful in school, life and beyond. Being at Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro, specifically my time as a counselor in training (CIT), has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. I could talk about this for hours (and I have), but for the sake of this blog I’ll limit myself to the main things being a part of camp has helped me with, in college and just generally in life.
I have been socially awkward for most of my life, and, if I am being honest, still am a bit. But being a CIT helped me learn how to deal with some of that awkwardness. Spending the better part of two summers with the same group of people gave me a lot of opportunities to practice putting myself out there socially and working through the inevitable tough times between friends. It wasn’t always easy, but it paid off. Someone I met at camp is still to this day one of my closest friends. Making new friends is also much easier for me now than it was pre-CIT. I am not afraid to put myself out there and take the first step. In fact, I recently developed a friendship with someone in one of my college classes after I complimented their glasses.
My first two years of high school were a nightmare. I didn’t turn in my work. I couldn’t motivate myself to do much of anything, especially if it was unpleasant or took effort. Ironically, I was afraid of failing and dealt with this fear by avoiding school. Fast forward and now I’m a straight-A student. This didn’t just happen overnight. It wasn’t some switch that magically flipped after my sophomore year when I wasn’t paying attention. It’s because of camp. Being a CIT taught me how to want to do the work. More importantly, it taught me how to do the work when I didn’t want to do it. Hauling luggage in 105-degree heat was not necessarily the most fun activity in the world. But pushing through, having a goal, and achieving it, made me feel like I had accomplished something. I took what I learned after that first summer of being a CIT and applied it to school. I learned perseverance, resilience, discipline, and how to make the most of something by remembering what you’re working towards.
If there’s one thing being at camp will do for you, it will teach you how to be a leader. For me, this started long before I was a CIT. The counselors and staff trusted the campers to take care of our living space and be good role models. As a CIT, I was given even more opportunities to be a leader. I also learned how to be more organized, which works to your advantage when you’re trying to be a leader. Learning how to plan and lead activities has been a huge asset in terms of not only managing my own time but getting jobs in childcare outside of camp as well. I can’t express how many times being able to teach a group of kids how to make a friendship bracelet or having a few games ready to go at all times have come in handy.
Lastly, learning how to take constructive feedback, not just from supervisors, but from peers has helped make me a better student, employee, and friend.