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JUL. 17, 2014

More Than a Summer Job

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Ellen Fox, Camp Counselor

Most people who know me are well aware that Eagle’s Nest is still an integral part of my life. Though my days as a participant ended six years ago, most of the benefits I received during my summers spent at 43 Hart Road were gained during the past four years I have spent as a staff member.

My first summer on staff succeeded my first year at college. I completed my undergraduate degree this past May and am onto my next educational excursion—a Masters in Education. That first summer a wise woman passed on some advice, that it was important to return to the Nest each summer after college because “it grounds you.” Upon each arrival, the matter that I needed “grounding” in was concealed from me each return in May and all too apparent upon each departure in August. Eagle’s Nest is like Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree: anticipating what I would need before I could ask for it. The first summer gave me inspiration, the second gave me leadership, the third gave me independence and Summer 2014 has provided clarity on what the past three summers combined has given me: selflessness.

Sure, while academics are rigorous in college, just as challenging is what happens outside of the classroom: one must exist and make decisions as an unattached individual. What will I eat for dinner? Should I go to the library tonight or that event that sounded a lot more fun? Could this person potentially be my friend? Can I get away with wearing this shirt a third day in a row?

College is a very “me, me, me,” time, which shouldn’t be underestimated because it is necessary to develop autonomy. But when does one learn perhaps the greatest life lesson of all: how to take care of others? I never a class offered in “Taking the Last Remaining (and Smallest) Portion on the Table: 102,” or “Soothing Nightmares and Homesickness circa Midnight: 226.” While the independence that college culture cultivates is key, it can be dangerous when unchecked by the altruism that days as a camp counselor forge. Shifting between the two mindsets can feel like an identity crisis. But if I hadn’t had these summers of band-aid-fetching and magic making sandwiched in between semesters of Shakespeare and football games, I would probably be where a lot of people in my generation seem to be stuck: a state of disconnect.

I’ve gained more than any internship or summer job could have taught me: thinking on my toes when a thunderstorm rolls in and basketball must go on; losing sleep to finish a crucial set for Final Banquet; covering a table setting duty so a fellow counselor can attend the off-campus trip they’ve been planning. If a potential employer doesn’t require skills such as these, then I probably wouldn’t want to take whatever job they’re offering anyways.

But who cares about the job. I’m a better human being because of working on staff at Eagle’s Nest Camp.

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