Sometimes the smallest doors open the greatest opportunities. At a crossroads in March 2011, I felt the burnout of post-collegiate grind. Less than one year out of university and a change of scenery was brewing. I was looking for a new challenge to rekindle the spark of young adulthood that faded in the months since graduation. Giving back and feeling accomplished while doing it were two motivating factors that I considered. My mom contacted me about a listing on a job site and I started doing research. The position included teaching outdoor education classes and acting in living history reenactments at a YMCA camp. Exciting!
My original idea of working at a camp involved the stereotypical Hollywood portrayal, but that was unrealistic. One aspect the movies fail to capture is the striving for individual purpose that staff undergo.I learned a great deal about others over that first year working with a diverse population. It was through helping other people that I grew inside, building character along the way. A new, informed appreciation of youth development professionals blossomed. In time, I learned to express my gratitude for the opportunities of camp. Returning to the same camp in 2012 through 2015, I sought out the entire camp experience, helping with teen programs, traditional residential, campers with developmental challenges, and day camps.
In shifting roles, things would, from time to time, get challenging in the late July heat. Learning how to juggle situations with some shred of sanity became paramount. That and drinking caffeinated beverages in the morning! Eventually, I got the nuts and bolts of camp down as well as singing campfire songs like Little Red Wagon. Camp became my sanctuary from the outside world.
Camp really did change my life because I let it. By helping young people have a tremendous time making memories, I lived vicariously through my work. Embracing the moments and furthering my passions became duel objectives throughout my recent summers. Camp became a social sphere of introspection for me, sharpening my perspective on life through conversations with young people and other staff members. A simple decision made in March 2011 altered my personal and professional life for the better. It is because of camp that I became a special educator and share my passion for trying new experiences with others. One humble commitment can forever enrich your life.
Thank you everyone who made an impact and happy camping!
Martin H (Moose)
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