My experience as a first year camp counselor held many things I was expecting, but also a number of things I was not expecting, with my group of 6th graders. My campers came from lower income neighborhoods and schools for an 8 week summer day camp. All of the kids seemed to know each other before arriving, and those who didn't certainly got to know each other by the second week of camp.
During the third week of camp, a new camper joined us. He had just gotten out of year-round school, so he joined the summer camp a little late. The first week he was there he would cry every morning because he wanted to go home. He complained of not having any friends and he didn't think he would have any fun.
One day the following week he didn't come to camp. Many of the kids had came up to me and asked me where he was and if he was ok. When I told them about how he didn't think anyone liked him, some of the kids had a guilty look on their face because they knew they hadn't made him feel welcome.
Thankfully this camper showed up the next day. As he walked over to the area where our group of kids are in the morning times, the entire GROUP (plus another group that we do activities with—about 60 kids total) stood up and clapped and cheered for him. All day that day, the kids asked him to sit with them at lunch, be on their teams for games, and stayed in line with him when we moved to new activities. The rest of that day, he beamed.
I had the pleasure of meeting his mother a few days ago, and she gave me the biggest hug and thanked me for helping him to fit in. I didn't know who she was at first, and then she said, "My son told me that you are the one counselor who's always tried to make him feel welcome, and he knows that you truly care for him. And last week for the first time since he's been here, he didn't call me to pick him up early from camp. Thank you."
Submitted by Anonymous