By Frank Burch, Assistant Camp Director
Howdy Eagle’s Nest Families!
Camp is here!!!
We hope you’ve been following along on all of the fun and excitement on social media. It was so wonderful getting to welcome campers AND their families on campus for opening day for the first time since 2019. It’s wild to think that some of you have sent campers here for multiple summers and haven’t seen campus from beyond your car door. We’re thrilled you got/will get to spend some time taking in the Western North Carolina beauty and meet your campers’ counselors in person this year.
Our staff training began just over three weeks ago, the final step in a long process of building our incredible camp team. We trained counselors on leading backpacking trips, lifeguarding and rock climbing, and all of the skills they need to manage a group of excited campers for weeks at a time.
Needless to say, our orientation covers a huge amount of material and requires a tremendous level of commitment from our counselor team. Seeing their enthusiasm after weeks of long days when you and your campers drove through the gate last Saturday was nothing short of inspirational. But that’s not entirely surprising, given the incredibly high quality of human beings we’re lucky enough to have with us this summer.
We look for a lot of things when interviewing potential staff members. Sometimes it’s experience in specific activities, like backpacking or woodworking. Sometimes we need staff with certain certifications. But ALL of our staff must have one critical prerequisite: a passion for working with and caring for children. The first question we ask every counselor during their interview is, “why do you want to work with children this summer?”
Sometimes, this gets interpreted as “why do you want to work at a summer camp?” We’re sure to correct this misunderstanding when it happens during the interview process. I mean, working at a summer camp sounds like a blast, doesn’t it? Beautiful scenery, the chance to do cool activities and get paid for it… who wouldn’t want a summer job at camp? But working with children requires a level of selflessness and thoughtfulness that goes above and beyond what the average summer employee is asked to do.
Throughout the offseason, I was struck by how seriously the counselors we did end up hiring answered this question. Some talked about wanting to use their summer to change lives for the better. Often the topic of COVID came up, and how isolating is was for them; more than once did a future hire talk about wanting to share joy and laughter with children who might have had a deficit of it in the past few years. Some counselors, particularly returning ones, talked about how much they grew from the challenges of caring for children, putting your own needs aside for the benefit of others who count on you the same way they count on their own parents or guardians.
These are the counselors who we excitedly talked about as soon as the interview was over, and they’re the ones your camper or campers are lucky enough to have as role models this summer. As I write, they’re hard at work leading activities, caring for a camper missing home, making skits (most of which I scarcely understand), and keeping our community safe. We can’t wait for you to speak with them more when the session is over. In the meantime, be sure to follow along for updates on our social media channels!