I wrote the following blog almost two years ago. Nothing has changed about the way I feel, but my life continues to be enhanced and made better by the girls and adults that I know through my role as a camp director. Here are my thoughts on the “job” and an update from this year’s camp.
I hate driving in Baltimore. Please don’t take offense. It’s not the city itself. It’s the multitude of one-way streets. Even when relying on my GPS, I always seem to get twisted around no matter where I’m going. Give me DC any day with its wagon wheel street design, every spoke emanating out from the beautiful white dome of the Capitol with states going in one direction and letters in the other. Now that’s a city in which I can find my way around. Even if I get lost, I know I’m never truly lost and can easily find the way out. I have a very hard time finding one good reason to drive in Baltimore. However, tomorrow, I will find 150 reasons.
Tomorrow I will attend the State of Maryland Camp Director’s Training. Though I’ve been a camp director for nine years now, I have never made it downtown for the training. This year, however, there are several crucial changes in the healthcare laws, so I must make the trek into the city to learn how to properly construct the necessary forms. So for the benefit of the one-hundred girls and the fifty staff members that attend Summer Roundup, I will boldly take on the streets of Charm City.
If you have never attended an overnight summer camp or have never volunteered for one, you couldn’t possibly understand the lengths to which I would go for the group of people I consider my second family. My own daughters and I have been attending Roundup for twelve years now. My girls have all three progressed from first year campers as Brownies or Daisies to know-it-all Cadettes to Teen Camp Aides, and for the second year in a row, one Adult Staff. I have watched them go from knowing nothing about camping or rowing or shooting an arrow to teaching younger girls how to pitch a tent, paddle a kayak, or hit a bullseye. I have seen girls cry their eyes out for four nights straight, and then a few years later, console and tuck into bed a new camper pining for home. I have staff members who were once Roundup campers themselves and are now attending with their own daughters.
There is something so special about an all-volunteer camp that it’s hard to put it into words. I’m sure that high-priced, fancy summer camps with fully paid staff and college kids making enough money to buy a car are a lot of fun. But nothing can compare to the heart and soul that is put into a camp by people who are there for no other reason than they love the camp. There is a feeling that each person, camper and adult alike, takes home from camp that never leaves them. It is that feeling that leaves all of us counting down until the next year when we will see each other again.
I highly encourage everyone to send your child to an all-volunteer camp. Don’t do it because they are by far the least expensive camps. Don’t do it because it’s a way to keep the kids busy for one week of the summer or to get them out of your hair. Don’t even do it because their friends are going to camp. Do it because it will be a week they will never forget, a week without phones or television or video games, a week of learning about nature and survival, and a week of learning about themselves. But before you send them, I ask you to think about this, what are you doing for that week? It’s just one week. You’ll survive. You might even learn something about yourself. So go ahead, fill out that form for your child, and while you’re at it, fill out one for yourself. It will be an experience you will never forget and will never regret.
** Update – this year, we have 163 people at camp with plans to possibly admit up to twelve more girls next year. We’re also going to add an additional night and morning! This excites me to no end! Just before sitting down to write this, I visited the “Little Camper Annie” Theater program where Brownie Girl Scouts were performing their own version of life at Summer Roundup – Annie style, as well as the Dr. Seuss program where Daises were creating hot air balloon photo holders while wearing Thing 1 through Thing 9 t-shirts. They presented me my very own Cat in the Hat chair, decorated and signed by each girl. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Some people spend the hottest days of the summer playing by the pool or heading to the beach. For me, the hottest days of the summer always have me trying to keep over one hundred girls and their counselors hydrated, cool, and having fun. You can take the pool. I’d rather take a walk to the lake to watch a group of girls swimming, kayaking, and playing water volleyball while laughing and smiling the entire time. There’s no other way I’d want to enjoy my summer.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Crabbing With Granddad (2013)
A Place to Call Home (2014)
Picture Me (2015)
Whispering Vines (2016)