Much to my slight embarrassment, I showed up to camp Monday morning in a bright red outfit; shirt, shoes, backpack, the whole shebang because I was told I'd be the leader of the red group. Due to a communication error, I didn't receive a group. Needless to say, my little counselor heart was broken. With a brand new site-leader, the two most experienced counselors, myself and another named Cassie, became "floaters." This is a reference to pool inflatables, not poo. The funny thing is, our first summer together, Cassie and I were also floaters, so it was quite humbling to have the most experience and be put, in some regards, at the bottom of the hierarchy.
However, and I believe Cassie will agree, we were seriously helpful to our two brand new counselors who received groups the first week. My partner, Justyn, has never worked with kids in his life. I see a lot of myself in him: I was sixteen and had no experience when I began, too. But I think I have him some great tools that first day, like helping to establish rules and order among his kids, and some great bonding activities. He had a great handle on his kids by Friday, and it made me really proud to see him step up and lead his kids instead of just being there.
Our first field trip this week was to a bowling alley in Ormond Beach, and I must say, our kids did excellently! For many of them, this was their first time at a bowling alley, their first time on a school bus and their first time leaving Palm Coast. I was very proud of how well they listened and behaved on the bus, considering the fact that due to dreaded budget cuts they were sitting three to a seat (all with seat belts, not to worry). We were supposed to visit this really gorgeous park in Ormond that is all done up like a castle (it was huge!) but because of conflicts with another visiting camp, we decided to return home. Everyone got an ice pop back at camp, so it all worked out just fine!
The kids as a whole this year are much more challenging in previous years; only a few of them are truly mean-spirited and don't know how to play with others, but the largest division would have to be what we playfully refer to as "space cadets." Usually kids who are babied at home and not taught structure and discipline, who come to camp and are so excited by it all that they're easily distracted and don't listen that well. I think most of our kids this year have never been to school before and thus need to have the rules reinforced more often, like being quiet in the hallways and how to sit properly at lunch. Just like we saw in Dr. Sapp's class, you can easily differentiate the kids who receive attention at home and those who don't. I try my hardest to be patient and overly attentive of the kids who don't, because I'm afraid of giving them another reason to want to misbehave or wanting to stay at home.
In conclusion, I think my challenges this year are twofold: it seems that in addition to training our kids, I am also somewhat tasked with training our new counselors. Obviously we will all develop different styles, but I hope that I can help Justyn and Tayla, our other newbie, to become confident in dealing with any group of kids they're placed with, especially kids with whom they're unfamiliar. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Hope everyone has a wonderful summer and I'll keep you posted!