I first started working at the Summer Camp program in 2005. I didn't really decide to do it so much as Sr. Mary made me do it. I was 14 years old at the time, and it was my first real job. She placed me with Mrs. Grayson's group (Group 1, the 4-6 year olds) and told me to do whatever Mrs. Grayson told me and to learn from Mrs. Grayson. So I did the best I could, tried to keep kids in line and make their days fun. I got to know how complicated a "he said-she said" argument between kindergarteners can be. That summer I made some money, had a good time, and gained some experience.
The next summer, when I was 15, I returned to summer camp by my own decision. I worked under Mrs. Grayson with Group 1 again. It wasn't until I was 16 years old, that I was ready to lead the group of young children. As time passed, Sr. Mary stepped down as program director and left Mrs. Grayson in charge. Sr. Mary still told me to do whatever Mrs. Grayson said and to learn from her. And that's what I've been doing these past 7 summers.
The summer camp program has meant a lot to me. I have gained many skills from the duties I had to perform. I have learned how to handle not only young children, but my peers better because of the summer camp. The camp has helped me to grow and mature as I went through my high school, and now my college years. I tell anyone who asks that it is the best summer job in the world. My friends have had all sorts of summer jobs and experiences, but I wouldn't have traded places with them for an instant.
Of course I can't talk about working at this summer camp without mentioning Khadija. She started working here the year before I did, and so she has 8 years under her belt. That means combined we have 15 years of experience! We had known each other through church before we started working at the camp, but we got to know each other better through the summer camp. Throughout my seven years at this program, the only faces I have seen ever summer in the staff are Mrs. Grayson, Renee, and Khadija. I wouldn't say that we are pros, but I would say that we have developed into competent, fun, and engaging counselors.
Sadly for both of us, this was our last summer. We had both been saying for the past few years that "this summer might be our last one," but this time it is true. She has graduated Salem College in North Carolina and is off into the adult world. I will be studying abroad in Lima, Peru next Spring and their semester runs through July, meaning that I won't be able to work at the camp next summer. The summer after that I will have graduated college and I too will be exploring the adult world. I don't know if we are moving on to "bigger and better things," but we are moving on to the next thing. Not because we are tired of camp, but because it's just time for us to go on. I know that next summer, I will miss camp dearly, and I am sure that camp will miss us. But I am equally sure that the campers will be in good hands.
It's been great to meet new kids each summer, and it's been even better to see returning campers as they grow through the years. Khadija and I have been at this camp for almost a decade, so it is the end of and era at the summer camp. It is also the end of an era in our lives. All we can say is thank you. Thank you Sr. Mary, for seeing the potential in us and making us believe in it. Thank you Mrs. Grayson for showing us how mature and skilled we could be. Thank you campers for not giving us too much trouble. And finally, thank you God for all those summers.