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Camp’s Long-Lasting Effects

by Cassidy Gillard

Somehow, and I honestly have no idea how it happened, summer is halfway over. When I started this blog I had every intention of continuing it regularly throughout the summer. And all of a sudden here we are, halfway through, and this is the first moment I’ve had to sit down.

I should have known this would happen. After seven years I feel like I should have at least a few things figured out by now, such as the fact that sometimes it takes five weeks before I have a chance to sit down.

Camp is definitely the number one priority in my life in the summer, and I think it’s safe to say that as the years have gone by, it has become my number one priority in general. Seeing the kids at camp as they grow up is such an exciting experience. I am constantly surprised by how mature they become, the way their styles change, and how much their interests vary year to year. One of my favorite things is when a kid comes back and all of a sudden has this desire to be loaded up with responsibility.

We have one kid who for the past two years has chosen – totally on his own – to work in the kitchen. He helps make snack during the overnight, helps serve meals, and chooses to get up early on Friday mornings to help me make breakfast. It’s so cool that we have the ability to harness this desire and actually use this child as a resource. He knows where things go, he understands the fast pace, and is able to judge when it’s a good time to step out and be “out of the way.” Regardless of whether or not this child grows up to work in the CMR kitchen, he is going to have these skills, which will serve him well in many aspects of his life.

We have another camper who decided after several years of being in frolf focus he wanted to be a CIT in the corral, and he absolutely loves it. It’s a completely different world, however there are parts of each experience that he will be able to take with him into the world.

There is one kid who has graduated from camp, but still comes to the park to hang out because he was able to make such wonderful connections and he wants to maintain those.

And then we have staff members who were campers from the time they were seven years old, and spent every week of every summer at camp. They come onto the staff team as some of our youngest staff members, and some of our strongest. They have seen it all. They understand how things work, they know where things are, they know all of the songs, and they know how camp happens. One of the coolest experiences that I’ve had is to be on staff with kids who I knew as CITs. I am constantly surprised, impressed, and humbled by what they have to offer.

Being able to be a part of these children’s lives and to witness these leaps and bounds of growth, maturity, and changes is why I do what I do. There are very few places where kids have the opportunity to form such strong, positive relationships with adults, and where adults are able to be impacted by such wonderful kids. There’s nothing out there like summer camp, and I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

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