Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Welcome to Camp!!!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  For many of you enrolled in 2015's Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp Capstone, this is your first week at camp.  Others will be starting in two weeks for the second session, and still more will be coming for the third and fourth sessions (beginning July 18th and August 1st, respectively).  To celebrate the start of this summer at camp, we'd like to share some Letters to Future Counselors written by previous counselors.  For those of you who are already enrolled, these letters are available to read in their original hand-written formats on the capstone website.  For those of you who are not yet enrolled (or who are reading this some years in the future), we hope this will give you more of an idea of the wonderful things that can happen every year at camp.  Enjoy!

These letters were written by counselors at the end of their camp session, on forms titled Advice to Future Counselors that had the following instructions: "Think back to your first day and what was going through your head.  Then think about your experience at camp.  What advice/insights would you give to a new counselor?  (This will be given to a counselor next year.)."  Letters may be lightly edited for clarity and names are redacted for privacy reasons.

And so, without further ado, here is our first letter:

    When I was in your position I was utterly terrified.  It was my first time working with people with disabilities.  I was anxious about personal care, communication, and most importantly that I might not connect with my camper.  Now I see things in a totally different light.  Both my campers
were very different from each other.  I learned to communicate with both and created deep connections with them.  Kiwanis camp truly is a magical place.  My CS, ACS, and fellow counselors felt like family by the first Monday.  With so many unique people with different abilities the camp creates a place accepting of everyone.  It will seem like a dream world after a while; two weeks free from the sprawl of the city.  I never thought I could care for someone as deeply as I cared for my camper.  And I never thought I could trust people as quickly as I trusted my fellow counselors.  Kiwanis Camp is a place that allows a reconnection to humanity.  We are immersed in the forest, surrounded by animals and mother nature, and the result is embracing every individual member of the camp for what they are: a person.  Even though you may be extremely nervous now, embrace the next two weeks.  Because there is a possibility when that second Friday comes you might not want to leave at all.

And now, our second letter:

Bring candy!  Whatever you think you know about working with persons with disabilities, you're about to learn a lot more.  I came in with some experience, but found myself challenged the same as those around me with no experience.  Also, learn to trust your group.  I promise you that by the end of your two weeks you will see all of them totally different than the day you meet them.  This will change you in the best ways possible.  These campers are a total joy to be around and this place is truly magical.  It's hard work but it's some of the most fun I've ever had.

We hope you enjoyed these letters, and let us know in the comments if you'd like to see more.  And if you've had experiences at Camp that you'd like to share, please tell us about them!  Talk to us in the comments here or on Facebook.

Happy summer, everyone!

UPDATE: Read more Letters to Future Counselors in another of our blog posts here!

1 comment:

  1. I would have to agree with the above letters, because I was super terrified the first day of camp. However, that soon left as I was challenging myself each and every day, and I soon learned that I could go in the canoe if I expected my camper to try it out? I wanted to help out other counselors, because I seen the need as a team player. I also learned how to relax and let loose, and to enjoy the outdoors with my camper. I will say that before you know it; the last night will be there as the boats and songs are sung. It is a fun and emotional roller coaster that will ever stay with me, and one I hope I will have time for again in the future.