It’s hard to believe that Summer Day Camp 2020 is officially over. It started with many uncertainties and challenges, but you have shown great leadership through COVID-19. It is hard to put into words or even express the gratitude that I have for you as a Summer Day Camp staff member or Director. If you worked at the YMCA or with another organization, we ALL served kids and you are appreciated. You made the personal decision to serve on the front lines everyday, and give these campers everything you had so they had a normal and fun Summer. You have worn masks in the hottest time of the year! As you smiled or talked to the kids through your mask, you did your best to show the enthusiasm and love through your eyes. You wanted to side hug or high five that camper or co-worker, but you had to air high five or do something else. You were outside taking temperatures and asking CDC questions, while keeping it fun and welcoming for that parent and camper in the crazy heat. You helped kids that felt nervous leaving their parent because they have been by their side since March, trust your camp as they started their first day in a new environment. You adapted to the new way of programming, and didn’t get to play some of your favorite games while keeping the campers excited. You were in groups of 9-10 kids by yourself, and didn’t have that co-counselor to lean on. You wore gloves, cleaned, and did everything you could to maintain a safe and clean environment. You had a smaller budget to work with, but you found ways to be creative. There are many other things you did differently this Summer, but also you missed out on things too. You missed staff training events like dance parties with confetti, messy contests, and other wacky things we would do prior to camp. You missed out on family nights and engaging with the parents, staff pool parties, staff intramurals, and other fun things you would do to stay connected outside of work. You missed that close connection with your campers and co-workers where you wanted to sit right beside them instead of taking a few steps back. All in all, you didn’t let that phase you or get you down. You had a purpose to make that kid smile and feel safe! You did that!
As many students head back to school or do virtual learning in the Fall, you have set them up for success. The social and emotional learning many campers received this Summer will help these teachers as they transition back into the classroom/virtual classroom. You have helped your community, and did your part as a Summer Day Camp Counselor or Director. When these campers are asked what was their favorite thing about Summer next week in their virtual meet the teacher sessions, many will say “Summer Day Camp was the best part of my Summer. I made friends and had the best time!” You did that! You created that memory for them in Summer 2020. I hope you take the time to reflect on the memories you made. Ask your parents to share with you the impact this Summer has made on their child. This is a great thing to share with the other staff from that camp, and donors that helped make camp possible. “Things end, but memories last forever.”
As you head back to high school, college, or to another program for that organization, you have handled a level of adversity that others may have not faced yet. What a great skill you have learned during this unusual time! Use that skill and confidence as you face new challenges in the Fall. Help others that may reach out and ask for guidance. If you go on a job interview, just don’t say you work with kids, and under sell what you have done. Your job as camp counselor or camp director is a serious job, and it’s way more than playing games, getting pied in the face, and swimming. Let them know all the skills and talents you have learned along the way. I started the Summer with a training and blog post called”You Are A SuperHero!” You are. Job Well Done Summer Day Camp Counselors and Directors.
I will leave you with an all time Summer Day Camp Assembly Classic that I would play for the kids back in the Early 2000’s!