Meaningful summer experiences

Meaningful summer experiences

This summer, I spent eight weeks attempting to tame screaming 11-year-olds in the middle of the Berkshire woods, and I loved it.

Since the age of 8, my summers have been consumed by Camp Becket in the Berkshires, an all-boys summer camp with no technology, run by 16-20 year olds. Camp consumed me: 24 hours a day, six days a week.  The constant energy necessary to cultivate the minds of kids barely out of elementary school was incredibly tiring, yet it provided an experience that I may not have attained anywhere else.

Each year, I’m asked why I didn’t do an internship or attend a class in the summer, and each year, I cannot explain why. Normally I just say that I love camp, and it often leads me to question the value of my camp experience.

However, according to TARGETjobs, a website designed to help begin carriers, eight of the top 10 attributes necessary to succeed in the business world are applicable as a camp counselor, namely: Communication, teamwork and problem solving. The environment fostered by camp fits these parameters perfectly, perhaps even better than in a high school-level internship.

In the increasingly competitive college and job-search processes, our release from high school to the “real world” is encouraged, and undoubtedly work experience is an effective way to become more accustomed to this. Yet, our exposure to the adult world doesn’t necessarily develop our skills. Often interns are shut out from the thick of the job and rarely are they fully invested in the occupation, whether they work in a hospital or at a software agency.

Yes, dealing with 11-year-olds doesn’t sound quite as glamorous as being part of a global corporation, but working at summer camp provides me with innumerable life skills that apply to the vast majority of jobs, and helps enhance my character.

As we become more pressured to dedicate our time to gain recognition of others, we lose part of ourselves. As William Butler Yeats, a poet, put it, “Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.” We push ourselves to join corporations that we don’t necessarily want to become a part of, in an attempt to aid us in the future, but realistically won’t.

In being a counselor I provided an environment in which children with social disorders and severe ADHD felt safe.

I would rather change the lives of campers than make coffee for a Google executive, no matter how good that job would have looked on my résumé.