After a very average dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup, my ten year old campers and I ran around the cabin, trying over and over again to catch fireflies and watch the beautiful North Carolina sunset. I watched as their glowing faces reminded me of what it was like to be a camper, laughing and running until falling exhaustedly to the ground. This past summer I was no longer one of the care-free campers-instead their cautious counselor. Instead of trying to sneak over to Senior Boy hill, I was the one yelling, “Watch out!” Watching them made me realize how much I had grown and changed this summer.
For as long as I can remember, I attended Blue Star Camps in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Blue Star was my happy place, every summer was filled with joy. Every year I came back from camp as a more positive and independent person.
Not being at camp for two years made me feel as if I were lacking my positivity and sense of independence especially after a long and stressful senior year in high school. I was so thrilled but nervous when I got the call that I could finally work at camp. Coming back as a counselor was something I had looked forward to during the two year break since I had been a camper. Now that it was a reality, I was finding it harder and harder to sleep at night as questions ran through my head. Who made this decision to hire me of all people? A week of training was not nearly enough!
Too quickly, the first day of camp arrived; the campers were coming. My co-counselor and I scrambled around the cabin to make sure everything was perfect. The gates opened at 8 AM, and we already had a brown haired, brown eyed freckled-faced girl named Alexis on the front steps, ready to start the summer. Immediately after that, nine other little humans came rushing in the cabin, unpacking their clothes and chattering non-stop. I had never been asked so many questions in my life!
That night, after everyone had gone to sleep, I let out a breath I didn’t even realize I had been holding. “I made it through the first day and it seemed to go okay. Only 55 more to go.“
Then I heard a noise. I quickly jumped off the top bunk to see what the raucous was. Alexis was face-down in her pillow sobbing her eyes out. I started to panic. I had never dealt with home-sickness. I calmly asked Alexis, “Do you want to go outside to talk?” she quickly replied “No” so I decided to ask again. This time, she was willing to talk. I thought to myself: “How can I make her not homesick? I am not her mom.” I asked her what was wrong and she immediately started apologizing for crying and being “difficult” and how she missed her parents. I kept telling her it was okay and that I was always there for her. After being outside for thirty minutes she started to calm down and thanked me for the help. Right before we went back into the cabin Alexis grabbed my hand and said, “Abby, you are my camp mom.”
This was the moment that I registered that these ten girls I had just met were counting on me to be the person they could constantly lean on no matter the situation, time, or place. It wasn’t my choice when it was time to mature and become independent. I was their camp mom.