As you probably guessed from the title, I was always very reluctant about going to 4-H camp. I had a list of reasons, some of them a little ridiculous, which I had created in the fourth grade.
Some of these reasons included concerns about the food, knowing no one at camp, seeing wolves or bears, sleeping in someone else’s bed, and the possibility of a lack of sleep. However, this philosophy of mine changed drastically in a very unexpected manner.
About three weeks before the start of 4-H camp, our county 4-H educator contacted my mother to talk to her about the possibility of me serving as a camp counselor replacement. Initially, I was very reluctant to the idea because I had never been to camp before. However, my mom managed to talk me into meeting with the county educator to discuss the possibility. During our meeting, she described a typical day at camp, as well as the duties that I would need to perform. Our meeting continued with me asking her about some questions and concerns that I had. After about 10 minutes of questioning, I had all the answers I needed and we prepared to leave.
My mom asked if I could have the evening to think it over. However, I had already made my decision. I don’t know if I was feeling adventurous, or if I was just feeling badly for the people who had put so much work into this camp. Regardless, I knew I did not want them to be short-handed because this meant a great deal to so many people. So, I had decided to become a camp counselor two weeks before camp and I had never been to 4-H camp before. Little did I know what I was in for!
After two pre-camp meetings and feeling more clueless than ever about what I was to be doing, the day arrived for my adventure. Upon arriving at camp I had no idea what to think. I just knew I was in the middle of the woods with a bunch of people who were practically strangers and soon a bunch of little kids would be filling the place. These feelings soon started to fade away after the campers started coming in with their parents.
The introductions began and as we struck up conversations I began to feel less apprehensive. As camp continued, I started to realize that I had really come out of my shell and my confidence was on the rise. I recognized I had befriended many of the campers and fellow counselors. Throughout camp I had enjoyed interacting with everyone through conversation and games. One of my camper’s favorite things to do was play octaball. They wanted to play it every chance they had and I played right along, including a couple occasions where I later learned we were supposed to be doing something else.
On the last night of camp I was honestly sad to have to leave because I had really enjoyed my time. It was amazing getting to know many of my fellow counselors, whom I served on Jr. Fair Board with, on a different and more personal level. The campers were so much fun and I had embraced the experience as much as they had! I was also honored to receive the best first year counselor award during the last night.
In the end, I was thankful I went and I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to being a counselor again this year. Camp wasn’t anything like I was expecting. The food wasn’t bad, there were no bears or wolves to be seen, and I got more than six hours of sleep a night. I learned a lot about myself through this experience and gained a valuable life lesson: “Be willing to try new things because things aren’t always what they seem to be.” So I say thank you to 4-H and everyone who was involved with my first camp experience!