We know there is a lot of pressure on today’s youth to get “real jobs” rather than working at summer camp. 

We have shared  articles from newspapers, (” The Camp Couneslor vs The Intern”) and articles written by camp professionals within our Tamakwa family (“Working at Camp is a Real Job” and “Yes, You Can afford a Summer Job at Camp“) but this week, as part of our ongoing “Tamakwans Talk” blog segment, we wanted to share with you an article written by a teenage Tamakwa counselor.

Sasha Stahl (now in her 20’s) sent us this email when she was 17 and we wanted to share with you her powerful words about the benefits you will experience on staff should you be able to be a counselor at Tamakwa. 

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If you know me well, I have probably bored you with one of my camp anecdotes that likely started with “this one time at camp” and ended with me saying, “you had to be there to get it!”  At the ripe old age of 17, I have learned to keep my camp stories to a minimum. That being said, I still feel that it is my duty (and honor) to defend the institution of camp, which is too often stereotyped and under-appreciated.

Wooden, mice-filled cabins, camp food, homesick campers, mosquito bites, s’mores making, excessive campfires, and instructional swim seem to be the cornerstones of every camp experience. Nothing is particularly appealing about any of the above mentioned. What kind of person would want to end their summer dotted with itchy bites and disgusted by the sight of a marshmallow? I would gladly!

However, I must admit that I felt unsure of my summer plans, which entailed being a counselor at the camp I have been attending for the past eight years, when I heard of how my peers were spending their summers. Working at law firms, interning at film studios, prepping for the SATs, and assisting major photographers were just a few of the ways my classmates chose to spend those precious, unscheduled three months out of school.

I felt embarrassed when people shared their summer plans and my answer was always the shortest, and least impressive: “counselor at camp.” I felt somewhat inadequate, compared to those getting real job experience in the Big City! However, now, upon reflection, I am ashamed that I ever questioned my decision to return to my camp of choice.

Of course, I do not mean to belittle the interns or job-seekers among you, but I do believe that the value of a camp experience (especially as a counselor) surpasses that of most other summer opportunities.

Camp enables you to learn outside the conventional classroom or office setting. Surrounded by evergreens, energetic campers, and an infectious camp spirit, I find that at camp I become the person that I most enjoy being.

Whether as a camper or a counselor, camp accelerates your growth in multiple ways. As a camper, you learn how to live with others, share with your cabin mates, be away from your beloved parents, and value independence. Camp is where I learned the importance of personal responsibility: making my bed, sorting my laundry, mailing your own letters, and so forth. Without the nagging of your (neurotic) parents, you learn to listen to yourself. Camp enabled me to trust my own instincts, whether they related to how to deal with cabin “drama” or to decide if my headache warranted a trip to the clinic.

As a counselor, you have this magical opportunity to witness your campers grow up at camp, in the same way you did. However, surprisingly, camp still has the ability to teach you something, even as you assume this role of responsibility. I learned how to be selfless, as I put my camper’s needs before my own. My ten-year old campers reminded me of the importance of being silly and spontaneous, two qualities which I had lost sometime during Junior Spring. I discovered the value in co-counseling, as I absorbed and appreciated the way my fellow counselors dealt with rowdy or teary-eyed campers.

Thus, as you contemplate the ways in which you will spend your next summer (although it is quite a while away), I urge you to consider what place camp can have in your life.

Get out of the office! Get into the woods!

sasha stahl

Tamakwans Talk” was created to give Tamakwans a chance to share how Tamakwa has affected their lives (or the lives of their children).

Deciding to send your children away for the summer can be difficult.  Choosing the right summer camp for your family is incredibly challenging. As Camp Directors, we eat, sleep and breathe Tamakwa and passionately believe that sending your children to spend a summer with us will positively change their lives forever. We could (and sometimes we have) talked to you about camp for hours. But, we want this column to be written by our alumni, campers, staff and parents, to be shared with prospective families to help them make the choice if Tamakwa is right for them. There is nothing more valuable than real stories and lasting memories shared by you.

Please email us at howhow@tamakwa.com and share today!