Summer Camp for a Book Lover – And My Summer Camp Counselor Experience

So I recently just quit my job as a camp counselor at a local camp and I figured I’d do a post about it following a blog post I read on Food52 that got me thinking.

summer camp

To start off, I want to say that I am not a quitter. I generally don’t quit things as I dislike letting others down so deciding to quit my job as a camp counselor took a lot of thought (and a few tears as well on my part) as I honestly had no clue what to do. But in the end I thought that it was the best option for me.

If you haven’t been a camp counselor before, you probably will think that I am kind of a wimp. And believe me, before I was a camp counselor, I would have said the same about anyone else who told me they quit their position. Holy cow would you be wrong. Let me get into a little detail about what I had to do.

At the beginning I was a bus counselor so I would have to be up at 6am to go for my rounds on the bus to pick up my little campers. The bus picked me up about 7am and I wouldn’t arrive at the camp until 9 or 9:30 in the morning. That is a long time on a bus with screaming kids, a bus where you were not allowed to eat or have coffee due to potential allergies. Next you had to get to camp and work. I had a very large group of19 girls, between 3 counselors, but that has since gone up to 23 campers. I had girls ages 9-10 years old so they are very sassy and love to test you. There would be fights and arguments between the girls and with the girls. They wouldn’t listen. And the best part is there are no punishments at camp……you cannot say ” listen or you’re not going to get ice cream” or something like that. Their parents are paying for their little angels to go to camp and so they know they are going to get anything, no matter what they say or do. Which sucks for counselors because you can’t say anything.

You have to think on your toes and maturely tell them what they are doing is wrong. God-forbid you stutter when you are trying to tell them off because they will not take you seriously and won’t listen to you. I became friends with my girls and they were really good during the first week of camp, but during the second week they took advantage of that. They started to be rude and not listen and then since you were their ‘friend’ they blatantly would disregard everything you said to them.

We were working outside in the sun from when the bus would arrive until 3:30 in the afternoon. Now if you have been paying attention to the weather, the east coast of America is currently getting hammered with extremely high heat. So we would be working outside in 95-100 degree weather with no air conditioning. Counselors couldn’t go into the pool until the end of the day (as during instructional swim we were not allowed to), and by the time free swim came the girls would take so long to change, for the counselors to go into the pool was a waste of time……. and we were too tired. During the whole day we had been running up and down the large hill on campus to the nurse, to get snacks, to get stuff cut, to get lunch. It was ridiculous.

childrens painted hands

Then as a bus counselor we had to get back onto the bus and take kids home so I wouldn’t get home until 6:30 in the evening. Can you say tired? So after the first week I quit the bus. And after 4 weeks of camp I had to quit camp as I got got heat exhaustion and became fairly unwell. Have you ever been sick in summer? It’s completely different to when the weather is cooler. And with camp officially ending the week before university, I cannot start the year sick. Like running a marathon after running a marathon. So this is my story of my wonderful summer camp experience. With many late nights, extra work at home to write letters to parents, overnights (which I didn’t go to as I quit just before it). None of this was mentioned when I was interviewed, and with what I was getting paid (it worked out to be about $1.25 an hour as they figured you would make up the money in tips which parents give to the counselors) it was NOT worth it.

But then I read a blog post on Food52 called ‘The Introvert’s Guide to Camp‘ and I got thinking and it inspired me to write this blog post. As a book lover, I really like quiet time. I don’t like to be on the go all the time, and if I am I need time to recharge. My recharging time is when I read a good book. While working at camp I wouldn’t get that. I was on the go from 6am until 6pm with no breaks in between. Even when I went to camp as a kid, it was only 3 days a week and it was an artistic camp so it would be creating stuff which is what I like to do as it was relaxing. That is why I loved Arts and Crafts at camp because I could ‘relax’ and just recharge a little.

The little blog post over at Food52 nailed what introverts do at camp, especially sleep away. I am not an introvert myself, but as a book person, they can sometimes be classified as potential introverts because they like to lock themselves away and read for hours on end. But that is who I am and happy to be. Working at camp showed me that while I enjoy an active life style, having to physically work as well as emotionally work for a 12 hour day is not something I personally can do. And if I was a camper at the camp I worked at, I would have HATED it. There was too much stuff going on all the time. Constantly moving, always doing something. Even in crafts it was all busy work. And so noisy! I loved when it was just patterns and we got to color it in because I found it so relaxing!

I came home from camp one day and created what you see above, and while it is may not be good, it is something I had never really done before but we had done patterns in camp and it was so relaxing, I just needed to do something to relax and unwind after being on the go the entire day.

But that was my summer camp experience. I had fun while I was there, generally, but overall it wasn’t exactly my kind of thing. Would I do it again? Probably not. But I know tons of people who love to do it.

How about you? Did you ever work in a summer camp and did you enjoy it? Also when you were a kid, camp yay or nay? What was your ideal kind of summer camp and if you’re a book lover, did you prefer to be on the fringes or were you a ‘in the middle of it’ kind of person?

Let me know and have an amazing rest of your summer!