This summer I was granted the opportunity to be a camp counselor at the ever wonderful Camp Island Lake located in Starucca, PA. It's hard for me to begin to explain how much this summer shaped me as a human being. We have a joke in the camp community that you can't ever really tell people about your experience in the way that you experienced it, because everything is just a "camp thing." I will give you a brief description of camp and do my best.
My camp was split into 5 groups of kids, Group 1 being the youngest and Group 5 being the oldest. I was blessed to be with lower Group 5 girls, so they were 13-14 years old. While a challenge at times, their sassiness made camp all the better. Camp is split into 3 sessions, and the campers can stay for all of them if they want. All of my girls stayed for at least 2, and about 8 of them stayed the whole summer. This means I got to spend A LOT of time with them; both in a good way and an annoying way.
Camp is not glorious. I ate sour patch kids off of the dirt, I took ice cold showers many times, a mouse/chipmunk ate my Kleenexes and food, and I never wore makeup. But all of these things make up the beauty of camp- no one cares. You won't let that sour patch kid go to waste, because that is the trading equivalent of gold. If you didn't take a cold shower, you probably wouldn't shower, so might as well make it quick. These are all things I ended up cherishing about camp, because the negatives bind you together as an "Ohana." The positive aspects of camp, like the never ending desserts, or the awesome evening activities (like Revival where campers get thrown in the lake, Miss ILC where male counselors compete in a beauty pageant, or the Counselor Hunt which is a big game of hide and seek among others) make camp fun. Yes, it's kind of like Parent Trap, but also way better.
Camp is indescribable. It is truly another world, where you can have in depth conversations on a hammock with another counselor and know about every fiber of their being by the 6th day you know them. It is a place where you can wake-up your co-counselor in the middle of the night to talk about boys, and they will still share their English tea with you the next morning. Camp is the magical moments when you feel so completely loved by your campers and you hold them in their arms as they say goodbye and they take a part of you with them. Camp will always be stargazing with the people you love and talking about aliens and the zombie apocalypse. Camp is the times when your campers ask about cat's voting rights and mean it.
As I was making the 11 hour car ride home, I felt a physical pang in my chest as I was leaving. I think I finally fell in love. This place takes you where you are, and molds you into someone better. It teaches you to care for another human being (or 14) and put their wants and needs ahead of your own. It really frustrates you on bad days, then turns around and shows you what it's like to be loved. Overall, I feel blessed to have spent a summer in Starucca at Island Lake. During orientation the camp owner said that the next 52 days would change you if you let them, and he was 100% correct.
While I miss Island Lake with my whole heart, I know that I have just made another place my home. As I return to Bloomington to start my senior year, I am gushing about camp, but also ready to make more memories in my one true home.
Overall, I highly suggest working at a summer camp if you find time. If you ever want to ask questions, reach out, and I'd love to chat for hours, or even just a few minutes, more about my experience.
ILC you soon.