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Summer Camp reflections

I worked at an U.S summer camp as a camp counselor. As an Aussie, this statement doesn’t elicit much more of a response than “oh cool is it like it is in the movies?” To be fair, some parts of my experience were exactly like the movies. Campers with energy that at times seemed boundless, smores, canoes, climbing walls and camp fires – lots and lots of camp fires. I learnt archery, riflery, mountain biking, mountain boarding (yes it’s a thing – a bloody dangerous thing), how to belay on ropes elements and celebrated the fourth of July, which until camp I had just assumed was like every other July day. I found myself absorbing camp songs and striving to see campers’ smiles and determined expressions to overcome tasks that they found challenging. I also discovered that there is only so much energy in the world – I’m fairly certain there’s a scientific law to back me up here but I can’t exactly remember which one is relevant.

Being a camp counselor wasn’t a matter of sitting back and watching as kids had unforgettable summers, it was a job that I completely committed to fulfilling to the best of my abilities. Although some camp elements were exactly like the movies, the particular camp that I went to was in other ways nothing like the movies. It had the longest training period of any camp and involved watching, reflecting and writing that totalled 100 hours even before I had boarded a plane. This camp, my camp, was focused on the most productive and healthiest communication forms, psychology and philosophy. There weren’t time outs when campers did something that upset another camper. There were conversations to find out the reasons and the underlying problems, and endeavour to find ways around these problems.

I worked at a summer camp, so what? Beyond the specific psychologies that we examined and the communication practices we learnt, what did a summer camp experience reveal? It revealed the hectic pace that is expected in the 21st century, and that even in an isolated community where everyone is endeavouring to find value and thoughts in their words and experiences – some things disappear right before our eyes. Even with this experience, things continue to slip right on by. Days blur into weeks and before I know it a month is gone. So here is a commitment to pause, breathe and appreciate the highs that come with amazing moments, as well as the challenges brought my more negative times.

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