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Summer spotlight: camp & camp counselors

Leonora Gogos, Staff Writer

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While some students spend their summers studying on college campuses or traveling the world, many students make time to return to places that they consider a second home – their summer sleep-away camp.

Though everyone has a different reason for wanting to return to camp, most share one: reuniting with their friends. Lauren Port (11) has returned to Camp Lenox eight years in a row because it is where she can be together with her best friends again, she said.

Port has different relationships with camp friends than school friends, she said. She spends almost all day with her friends at camp, and they are forced to communicate without phones, so they deal with any issues they have in-person, Port said.

When dealing with issues over text, people are able to be use functions like blocking someone on social media or ignoring them; however, in person, you can’t just ignore someone, Port said. Not having access to technology forces you to find time to have a meaningful conversation with that person, she said.

Not having access to phones at camp allowed the campers to “make better memories with people instead of being distracted by social media and the Internet,” Kate Bown (9), who has been attending Camp Laurel for eight years, said.

For Gabi Rahmin (12), her favorite part of camp was also the “community and camaraderie among campers,” she said.

Rahmin was not able to return to camp for the past two summers because she wanted to take SUPHY and experience internships, but she misses going to camp because of the amazing people she met and the life experiences she gained there, she said. The decision to not return to camp was her own and not her parents’, Rahmin said.

As they get older, students at the school sometimes opt for academic programs instead of sleep-away camp. Some students have difficulty managing summer academic responsibilities, such as summer reading, when camp takes up the bulk of their summer, Bown, who’s last summer at Camp Laurel was in 2017, said.

“I do not regret going to camp any summer, yet it can add more stress when returning home and having to cram,” Bown said. For Bown, this was never a prominent struggle because school started a while after camp ended, but her limited time after camp the summer before eighth grade made it harder to get the most out of “Ramayana” by Valmiki.

Most camps have age limits for campers, but students can return to camp as counselors once they are old enough.

For part of the summer, Port was able to complete her final camper summer at Camp Lenox, but she also spent three weeks working as a counselor at AYUDA in the Dominican Republic.

Through the program, Port worked at a summer camp for kids with Type 1 diabetes. She spent time with the campers, educated them, played games with them, and ultimately got to know them. “I loved working with the children while also being able to utilize my ability to speak Spanish,” Port said.

One of the most meaningful moments for Louis Toberisky (12) as a counselor was when a young camper grew stressed about a thunderstorm because he thought the clouds were angry with him, he said. “It was pretty funny, but I couldn’t let him know that I found it funny because he was genuinely upset. So, I sat with him for 30 minutes trying to explain how plants benefit from rain.”

Toberisky began the job in 2015 to earn money, but has returned every summer since because he genuinely enjoys working with little kids, he said.

Helena Adler (12) worked at Camp Hillard as a counselor this summer, but she used to be a camper there. “When kids are sent to camp, the whole point is for them to feel stress free and happy,” she said. “As a counselor, I go in knowing that my job is to keep the kids safe and happy.” It’s a lot more responsibility being a counselor than a camper, Adler said.

Port could not say she prefers being a camper over a counselor, or vice versa, she said. “They both involve creating amazing relationships and learning more about yourself at the same time.”

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Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903
Summer spotlight: camp & camp counselors