It’s an early morning. Checking your pack, you check off the list in your head: sunscreen, schedule, basic first aid kit, bug spray, Bible, water bottle and possibly your phone. The sun is creeping into the windows and half of the kids are starting to rise out of their slumber and get ready. One lost their bug spray, another can’t find their shoe, and yet another might be talking about their very odd dream. All of this is even before breakfast!
The day’s activities progress and chaos ensues through lunch, swim time and a dinner at which the young ones you look after eat as if they haven’t for the entire day. A devotional might be led before bed, and then: you breathe.
Emily Berggren, a sophomore public relations major, worked as a day camp counselor at Camp Geneva in Holland, Michigan. As a day camp counselor, Berggren would greet campers around 8:30 a.m. and send them off for the night at 4:30 p.m.
“The campers would range in grades first to third depending on the week,” Berggren said. “We would go to songs and skits first in the morning where we would sing, dance and the kids would hear the Bible story of the day. After songs and skits, we would go through a Bible study of what we just learned.”
However, Berggren went in with no expectations.
“When I started I had no idea what I was doing,” Berggren said. “I remember talking to my friend and saying that we were crazy for moving to Michigan for this. The longer we were there, the more I learned though, and the more I was able to appreciate the unpredictability of working with six-year-olds. They are some of the funniest little people I have ever met and some of their quotes are hysterical.
Throughout the summer, unforgettable times and joys start to rise out of the supposed rubble. Emily Rozendaal, a sophomore worship arts major, worked at Lake View Camp based out of Pella, Iowa.
“I will never forget watching a cabin of six young girls come together to support a cabinmate who had suffered a loss,” Rozendaal said. “While I was feeling unequipped and unsure what to do, these girls responded right away in love, acceptance and empathy, in a genuine and pure way.”
For the most part, every camp counselor will say that they experienced exponential growth, spiritual and personal, during the summer.
“I definitely learned a lot about how to be a better mom down the road, since I was basically a mother of eight five-year-olds for eight hours each day,” Berggren said. “I also came to more of a realization that everyone has a story, and everyone is an eternal being. Oftentimes, God is working in people’s hearts more than we realize.”
Rozendaal experienced something similar.
“Camp helped me learn what it looks like to come to the Lord as a child,” Rozendaal said. “To watch the freedom with which the campers would praise the Lord through song, ask questions without regard for pride, and encourage each other with their words; I have definitely taken it to heart.”
Amidst all the chaos and exhaustion, camp counseling is part of a great story and development plan to be carried out by God. Working as a camp counselor is very challenging yet worthwhile and rewarding, especially for young adults finding out who God wants them to be.
“My experience was simultaneously edifying and exhausting, joy-filled and challenging,” Rozendaal said. “When you’re a camp counselor, at least in my experience, there is little to no downtime; it is an always-on kind of commitment. If that sounds exhausting, that’s because it was! But it was also one of the most growing and stretching experiences of my life and sweetest times of serving and worshipping I have experienced yet.
As a day camp counselor, Berggren also was always on her toes.
“Hopefully you don’t need sleep though, because you’ll pretty much be going three months without that,” Berggren said.