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Louis - Humans of Camp America

12.10.16

American campers at that age generally tower most counsellors, often causing confusion when I was mistaken as a fellow camper during campfires and mealtimes.

Some would argue that the level of humour and maturity is more developed with 16 year olds however, we often found ourselves giggling in the cabin like the youngest at camp. I distinctly remember one week specifically away from th...e oldest and with a 13-year-old cabin. Although this presented new challenges, I was up for the task to make their week unforgettable. Over the next few days a co-counsellor and myself established a mutual friendship with the group of boys, each camper presenting different behaviours and qualities.

Naive about how quickly things could change, I felt all campers bonded into a close nit team with respect and enjoyment throughout; unfortunately, this was not the case. One camper was very reserved and preferred quiet hobbies to do on his own. With encouragement we tried our hardest to be exclusive for everyone however he showed no interest, causing the other boys to isolate him. Placing into perspective, the majority of our campers were diehard sports fans, constantly arguing over which team is the best and who were their all-time favourites. In comparison he was into mythical creatures, mind games and solving his Rubix cube; he always carried around this cube.

One night I caught him sitting alone to one side, wondering why he didn’t want to join in. On approach he broke down in tears, saying how much he hates camp and how he wants to go home. Determined to change his mind I chose to talk about his cube which quickly turned into him teaching me how to solve the first side. Amazed to see the outburst of interest, he became a new person causing me to join in each night to learn the rest. Over the next three nights he managed to teach me something new whilst having great conversations. Additionally, other campers in the cabin began to show interest in completing this cube because we made such a big deal out of it.

As the week came to a close he begged his family to stay longer which fortunately they allowed. Over the next few sessions he bounded from strength-to-strength, changing from this timid child to a remarkable young adult with a new lease of confidence. Moving back up to the oldest boys and their immature ways, I often checked up on him during camp wide actives. He showed a lot more independence with his new friends, all made over the time he spent at camp. I feel this influential position a counsellor can have when impacting campers is moving, on the contrary this can be said about certain campers as well like the quiet boy I met that week. Upon leaving he gave me his Rubix cube which I still have to this day to teach other unhappy campers.

Louis – South Mountain YMCA Camp (2015)