Jenna crossed her fingers, heart racing, hoping she’d be the lucky girl to spend four days with us. Four days to escape for a bit.
“At my school they draw our names out of a hat, and whoever’s name gets picked gets to come here to Camp Swift,” says Jenna.
She wanted the chance to sleep in a creaky bed, be surrounded by watermelon bugs and eat grilled cheese in the middle of the woods – the “camp experience.”
Jenna wasn’t able to ask her parents or do a couple of extra chores in order to board the bus. It was a game of chance for an opportunity that was out of her reach financially. But that year, Jenna got her chance.
That is why Swift counselors, including myself, scream and cheer so loudly when the campers arrive at camp. Because we can control the impact of their experience that week.
Ready. Set. Go.
As a counselor, I love to watch my campers eat. I love knowing that for at least a few days my campers feel full – a feeling most of us only complain about.
As a counselor, I love taking my campers to Keppie’s Closet – getting to clothe them with items they don’t have at home. I love sending my campers home with a jam-packed suitcase.
As a counselor, I love Shaboogie time. This is when we counselors sit around with the campers in our cabin to discuss serious life topics. Dreams of being doctors, lawyers and teachers. Each year I try to leave them with an indelible message: “You can do anything you set your mind to. Your potential is unlimited.”
Each year I give my campers letters as reminders of those positive messages. Of course, most of them will lose the piece of paper on the car ride home, but my goal as a counselor is to leave them with something more permanent. Through their experience I hope these messages are now engrained in them:
Camping in the woods for the first time is fun because you should never be afraid to try new things. Talking about school and the future is important because you can go anywhere you want. You should make new friends because you have a lot to offer a person. Dancing in front of the camp is special because you are special and deserve moments to shine.
As a counselor, I hate waving good-bye to my campers as they board the bus home.
And as a counselor, I can only hope I’ve given my campers a little piece of summer and a little piece of Swift. I know it will always be a piece of me.
Zoe Isaac is a senior at Desert Mountain High School where she is the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. She is also on the teen leadership board of Friendship Circle and a congregant of Temple Solel.