Saturday, February 21, 2009

Work on Crew!

So, granted, I am loyal to two dear summer camp programs. Pleasant Vineyard in SW Ohio is where I spent 3 blessed summers. I began as an unschooled young'un of 19, counseling my first summer away from home (the longest I'd ever been out of Sturgis, as I was going to a community college and living with my parents the first 2 years of college.) And by the last summer, I led the Junior Staff program. God knows how deeply I love and miss that place. Ever since the first summer, I haven't gone longer than a handful of months before finding myself there again for some reason or another, whether it's helping out with a weekend program or just seeing some of the friends who live nearby while taking time to walk the trails prayerfully. Both for people who have walked them in the decades before me and for the ones who will walk it in the years to come.

My second camp is actually a camp and conference center, Cedar Campus, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I spent the last 2 summers there and the seasons between them too. Still not quite sure where I've spent the most time, if I were to count all the days at both Cedar and PVM. It was at Cedar where I began not quite as a newbie, as I'd already put in 3 summers as camp staff, but a newbie to the area. At Cedar (as opposed to PVM), I was an adult although one of the youngest on staff. I had my BS in English and was fresh off the plane from 6 months in China. This made me appreciate the international crew and guests so much more, as I had had a taste of what it was like to be a stranger in a foreign land. There was also the added plus of rubbing elbows with InterVarsity staff from all over the midwest, many of whom I had met through involvement in CMU's chapter.

At both places I have been brought to both temporary and long-term meaningful friendships, and greatly increased my EQ (ala Susan Vaal, that's Emotional Quotient). Before working at a summer camp, I had always thought it would be amazing work. You get to be outside all summer (when it's not raining, anyway), you get to do great and fun things with kids (and some tough things, but still good), you become more fit because you're playing with kids, it looks great on a resume, and you probably make some incredible friends along the way.

Now, it's true, the types of camps I have worked at aren't the ones you go to in order to make a lot of money, and I worked my way through college with loans, some of the money from camp staffing, and employment while at school; but even though it's cliche, the experience working at a camp and giving of yourself for others is priceless.

Consider summer camp staff!

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