We have, hands down, the most AMAZING camp counselors here at Vista Camps. About 80% (or more) of these counselors have grown up coming to camp here in the Vista Bubble, so we have had the privilege of watching them blossom into amazing young adults. There is something heart-melting about seeing young men and women whom you have known since they were in Hawks Hilton or The Fort (the youngest cabins) leading activities and dining hall songs as counselors. The pride and nostalgia that I know they feel when telling the story of the “Great Spirit” at Opening Campfire is really too hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it yourself. I honestly can’t think of the words that my heart would so love to describe to you. All that comes to mind is “goosebumps”, “overwhelming joy”, and “crying happy tears”. Year after year, our sweet counselors continue to bless us with their energy, creativity, love of life and of the tradition of Vista. They give 110% of themselves every single day from sun-up to way after sun-down, to make sure our sweet campers are having as good of a time here in the Vista Bubble as they did as campers. We love hearing from them during the school year, especially about how Vista Camps made a difference in their lives. We’ve seen the transformation happen before our eyes, by spending weeks with them each summer, but to hear their camp testimony in their own words is pretty special. Here are two more essays that a couple of Sierra Vista counselors have shared with us over the last couple of years. I know you’ll be able to relate if you’ve been here before!
“It is a common idea in modern society that kids don’t take much away from summer camp other than the knowledge of how to make a friendship bracelet or paddle a canoe. While I did become quite good at both of those activities over my seven summers as a camp kid, I took away a lot more than that from my time spent at camp. Camp taught me how to be independent, brave, and both a leader and a follower; all skills that I use in my daily life. I learned how to make new friends and deal with enemies, as well as how to treat my opponents respectfully and with good sportsmanship, because at times they were my best friends. Camp was where I mastered the two-minute shower, an essential skill for those of us living in Southern California right about now, as well as how to most efficiently complete every-day tasks. My conflict resolution skills improved astronomically, a natural evolution considering that I was living with fifteen other girls for a month. I even learned a lot more about the outside world through conversations with international campers! As someone who has had the opportunity to be both a camper and a counselor, I have learned how to be responsible not only for myself, but also for others. But most of all, camp taught me how to be an individual, and that I will be loved despite my flaws and eccentricities. And when I do forget these lessons, such as good sportsmanship or self-confidence, I think back to my sunny months at Sierra Vista, and they remind me to be the best person that I can be. My experiences at camp helped transform me from an introverted ten-year-old coping with things she could hardly understand into the confident young woman who is currently applying to college. While my days as a camper are behind me and my days as a counselor are growing ever-more limited, my memories from those summers past will stay with me forever and help to remind me of the amazing things that have made me into the person I am today.” – Alex T. (7 year camper, 4 year counselor)
“Growing up, I was the person who always stuck to the norm. I wore the same outfits as everyone else, I listened to the same music as everyone else, and I acted the same way as everyone else. I was a follower. I began to blend in and eventually no one knew who I really was. This all changed when I met my summer camp counselor, Holly Wright. She not only made two weeks of my summer a blast, she taught me valuable life lessons that I can use throughout my life such as how to be myself and how to be a leader. Holly has impacted me in a way no other person has.
The most important life lesson Holly taught me is to be myself and stand out. At camp, I was always being overshadowed by my cousin because she was older and more outgoing than I was. I stayed to my reserved self and just went along with the flow. That is, until I saw Holly and the way she was not afraid to be crazy and goofy in front of a bunch of teenage girls she had just met. Slowly, throughout the two weeks, Holly would pull me out of my shell by getting me to act silly with her. At the end of the day, she made me realize that I was not going to go far in life by trying to be invisible, or one of the pack. Through her unspoken words and gestures, Holly showed me who I was meant to be.
As Holly taught me it was okay to stand out, she also impacted my life by teaching me how to be a leader. During camp, the campers are split up into two tribes and have daily competitions. Within those two tribes there are officers. When I was just thirteen years old I was nominated to be my tribe’s chieftain. I was hesitant to take on this position because being shy, I was not the type of person who liked a lot of attention and I certainly was not the type of person who liked telling other people what to do, especially if they were older than me. For the rest of that day Holly could tell I was acting strange. She could see that I was uneasy about being in charge so she pulled me aside and said just five words, “We see something in you.” Those words encouraged me to be the chieftain. Throughout the term, Holly stood by my side and taught me how to lead. She taught me when to be strict and when to be easy going. She taught me how to encourage others and how to be an example for them. She not only taught me how to be a leader, but molded me into a great leader.
After I met Holly, it was easy to see just how much she impacted my life. At camp, I went on to be my tribe’s chieftain three years in a row. I was also initiated into the Starguiders, an elite tribe of girls who serve as role models for the younger campers. To be initiated, all thirty camp counselors have to agree that you are a leader, that you are outgoing and enthusiastic about camp, and that you are someone the younger campers can count on. Within the Starguider tribe, I took on the role of different officer positions including chieftain. As well as leadership positions, I also received many awards because of the person Holly helped mold me into. Among these awards was “The Most Outstanding Camper” which is the highest award a camper can achieve.
Not only did Holly have an impact on my camp life but also my school life. At school, I was putting myself out there more. I made new friends and people actually got to know who the real me was. I also took on more officer positions in the various clubs and organizations I was involved in such as Co-Captain of my volleyball team and Secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America. As I prepare to go to college and then out into the real world, I hope to take these lessons and apply them to my everyday life by not blending in with other students or colleagues and to not be afraid to take charge or give orders. I am thankful to have met Holly that summer because without her I would not be the person I am today. She taught me skills that will last me a lifetime and because of that she is the person who has impacted my life the most.”
– Emily B. (6 year camper, 1 year counselor)
More to come! Have a blessed day!