So, in just a few days I will be headed off to be a counselor at the place that I call my second home. The place where I learned who I was and how to be that person, how to love myself, how to feel safe within my own body. Camp has given me more than I can ever repay and last summer when I shifted my journey at camp from camper to counselor I was extremely nervous. I had been given everything by these strong ladies that I had the privilege to call my counselors, and I wanted to provide the same love and support that they had. Last summer I was attached with 10 year olds. Even though that’s the age I wanted, I was also scared. That’s such a vulnerable age, an age where they can be molded for the better or worse. Coming in, I knew I had the chance to make a huge impact on these girls if I wanted to. The summer came and went faster than any other previous summer and by the end of the summer it was tough to say how much of an impact I’d really had on these girls. At their age you don’t see change immediately and if they feel different they hardly ever vocalize it. But I tried my hardest and this summer will be no different.
The hard part wasn’t necessarily convincing my young campers of their own worth, but rather convincing myself of mine. I yearned to be a good influence on them which meant I had to appear comfortable in my skin, I had to eat full meals at dinner and don a bikini without hiding myself away. As aforementioned, it’s hard to say how much of an impact I had on my campers, but I can say that they helped mold me to become a better person. Their willingness to accept and love everyone despite their shape, color, and opinions (they had some convincing when it came to liking boys but their ten so I had to cut them a break somewhere) was extremely refreshing and it reminded me that humans are not born with hate instilled in us. We are not born with concepts of fat and skinny or ugly and pretty. We learn those, from society, from our peers, from our parents even. It becomes so instilled within us that we often forget it wasn’t always there, and it doesn’t have to remain there. That is what these ten year-olds taught me. So while I am excited to go back to camp with a whole new batch of campers who I can try and influence and mold, I am also excited to see what they can teach me.