At camp, I would easily say that about 90% of my job is working with kids. For however long they're here, it's my job to bring them into camp and help them learn something new and maybe leave as a slightly different person. What I love is that with every group I get, I think I also learn something new. There was a group that came through a couple weeks ago, and something that one of the kids said still sticks out to me and reminds me of my role here. This kid was a freshman in high school, the kind who was too cool to really look excited about any of the activities, and worked really hard to establish himself as the one who couldn't care less. He did join in the activities, and I was at least happy that he was bonding with his groupmates, even if he didn't want to admit that he was having fun to me. After most of our team building actvities, we go through processing with our group to see what they have learned from their day. On this day, I picked my favorite processing activity: Pick one word or phrase to describe this day and tell me why. This kid was the last one to answer. I asked him what he chose, and he carefully gave his response:
"Ok, why did you pick 'disciples'?"
"Because today, you were like Jesus and we were like the disciples. We followed you into these activities, but we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into, like when the disciples brought Jesus the loaves and the fish and He said that he would feed 5,000 people. We were skeptical, but we did it anyway. Once we were done, we realized that you, like Jesus, had a plan all along."
Now, I have never had a bad response to this question. I have had rushed responses, responses that the kids think I want to hear, responses that are just a different phrasing of someone else's response, but this is still my favorite response that I've ever had. It reminds me of the importance of what I do, the importance of my attitude, and the importance of how I interact with a group. Kids don't get enough credit, and this response from the kid that I had basically written off as uninterested was a powerful reminder that what we do does have an impact, even if it doesn't seem like it in that moment or in that day. I doubt that kid knows how much of an impact he's had on me, but he has helped me see the growth in all of my kids, to reach out to the ones who seem the least interested, and to never underestimate the ability of kids to surprise adults with their empathy, honesty, and wisdom. Thanks R, you rock.
Posted by Lauren Owen, Program Staff, 2016-2017
“Children who feel a connection with the natural world are happier, healthier, and smarter.” Richard Louv
Knowing that we connect kids to the natural world is one of my favorite things about camp. Kids are outside and connected to NATURE whether they attend summer camp or a school year program. I think most of us probably have a favorite memory of time spent outside either alone, with peers or an important adult. I remember CYO Camp and my grandparent’s backyard as two outdoor spaces where I could roam and explore. I have such wonderful memories of both places.
At camp I played in the creek, ran among the trees, sought out raccoon and deer, rode horses, and basked in the sun! I was immersed in the natural world and was having the time of my life with friends and counselors.
In my grandparents backyard I explored a garden, sandbox, a creek, trees, sun, sky and more! From this experience I learned where my food comes from, how to care for the neighborhood creek (never litter) and just “be.”
Those early outdoor experiences at camp eventually led me to a career connecting other people with nature. I love what camp does. When we connect kids to nature we connect them to God, to each other, to the greater community and to the future. As we get busy with Fall school groups my greatest hope is that we can reach more kids than we did last year.
Yours in the Outdoors,
Angi Sullivan, CYO Camp Co-Director