Today's blog is a guest post from first-time counselor at Camp Spring Creek, Conor. Thanks, Conor, for all your hard work and heartfelt reflections. We're so glad you're here!
So it’s been four weeks since camp officially started and this year’s crop of campers descended on Camp Spring Creek. I’ve now been in North Carolina a little over a month, and can honestly say it has been the quickest five weeks I have ever experienced. At the same time--and I’m aware of how contradictory this sounds--when I think back over everything that has happened since I touched down in Charlotte, it feels like I must have been here for months. Maybe even years. Since I arrived, I have acquired an American Red Cross qualification in lifeguarding and CPR (thanks to our very patient and understanding instructor), attended a genuine sidewalk street dance in Bakersville, experienced 4th of July as the Americans celebrate it and, as well as countless others, met the most amazing group of people (campers, counselors and tutors) I’ve ever encountered.
That’s what really sets this camp above its larger counterparts. Hidden up in the mountains, with no television, Internet or cell phone connection, camp becomes its own little secluded community. As I write this, we consist of approximately fifty-two people; thirty campers, eight counselors, seven tutors, assorted members of staff, and the van der Vorst family.
Before we continue, I would like to apologize for the frequent references to the passing of time in this post--how many weeks camp has been up and running, how long it has been since I arrived, the length of time until camp wraps up, etc. The reason I mention it so often is because I truly cannot believe both how fast time is passing and how much is being achieved in that time. It’s almost as if, in our little dyslexia-orientated enclave in the Blue Ridge Mountains, time is passing differently than in the rest of the world. Having such a small, intimate camp means that during the course of the last four weeks (I did warn you) I’ve really gotten to know all of the campers personally, as well as forging extremely tight bonds with my fellow counselors and colleagues. Though it can be difficult at times, I couldn’t have asked for a better or more diverse group of kids for which to be responsible.
All the children have very different personalities and skill-sets and it’s enthralling to watch as these traits slowly become apparent as camp goes on and the campers grow in confidence. As cliché as it sounds, I have probably learned more from this bunch of 6 to 15 year olds than they have from me. It can be extremely humbling to become engrossed in a debate about education, history, or even philosophy, only to realize part-way through that you are having this very mature discussion with a twelve-year-old (and even more humbling when said twelve-year-old reveals they are at least as knowledgeable, or even more knowledgeable, about the subject than you are!).
Despite only meeting them three weeks ago, the thought that many of these kids will be leaving this [last] week is a source of genuine distress to my fellow counselors and I, which is a testament to both the campers and Camp Spring Creek as a whole. Though we’re not even halfway through our stay at camp, several of the counsellors (including myself) have already decided that we would like to return again next year, provided Susie and Steve will take us back, of course!
Before I arrived in North Carolina I was, quite frankly, at a loss as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and where I wanted to go. Already, I can say that choosing to become a counselor at Camp Spring Creek is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I’ve learned an awful lot about myself that I never would have known if I’d stayed at home and it has given me some real direction as to what I want to do after the summer. I remember reading a previous entry on this blog prior to my arrival at camp that described a summer at Camp Spring Creek as "the hardest fun I’ve ever had," pretty much summing up my last few weeks in six words.
And I wouldn’t change a thing.