Alumnae, Volunteer Experience

Girl Scout Camp Counselors: How April’s Summer Job Changed Her Career Path and Her Future

When I became a Girl Scout Camp Counselor at Camp Butterworth during the summer of 2006 I couldn’t even begin to comprehend how much of an impact a summer job would have on my future. When I entered the camp on the first day of CPR and First Aid Training I was an adrift 19 year old who was looking to spread my wings. What I walked away with 3 years later was far more valuable and more encompassing than my small town life ever provided for me.

Throughout my first summer at Camp Butterworth I discovered that I had a gift, a gift for teaching and building relationships with kids. I was a music major at Ohio State University and never dreamed of working with children. During my time at camp I was encouraged to sing silly songs at the top of my lungs, have meaningful conversations while making friendship bracelets, and comfort homesick kids in the middle of the night. During this summer I realized something, I was pretty darn good at working with kids. I mean, I knew I always had the “Chops” for singing but didn’t know I had the aptitude required to work with kids. This revelation impacted me so deeply that ultimately decided to change my major to Elementary Education that fall semester and pursue a career in teaching.

Thoroughly enjoying my experience my first year as a camp counselor I returned to camp again during the summer of 2008 and I was now a “grown up” 21 year old and able to be promoted to a Unit Leader. I was given driving privileges, put in charge of the Counselors-In-Training, and given my first opportunity to lead in an educational setting. I can’t say I necessarily thrived as a leader in my initial year of leadership but the management opportunity that camp provided me ultimately started me on a path of leadership and blossomed my desire to become more than just a classroom educator. Currently, I have pursued this passion and have graduated with my M.Ed in Educational Leadership where I hope to lead teachers and hopefully an entire school to academic greatness. I am presently the head of the Science Department and the youngest member of the leadership team at the elementary school where I work in Orlando, Florida.

The summer of 2008 unearthed my passion for leadership but it was through my experience in working with the inner city of Cincinnati that I ultimately found my true purpose in life. I had discovered my enthusiasm for working with children but driving the camp van through the streets of downtown Cincinnati to pick up the “Cop Camp” kids propelled me to the destination I had been seeking since that first summer. These experiences in working with inner city children has shaped not only my career path but has helped to define me as a person. It provided me with an eagerness and enjoyment for helping inner city, impoverished, minority children which is still my passion to this date. 

I have several amazing memories and hilarious stories working with these kids at camp but greatest thing I learned was how to grow the necessary relationship building skills needed in order to make the connections and positive experiences with these kids. These skills have helped me immensely when starting to build the positive culture I have within my own classroom because since leaving camp that year I sought out internships in the toughest neighborhoods and only applied to work in Title I schools where I knew I could work with the kids I bond with the most. I have been an educator for 7 years and I have only worked in inner city schools in the Central Florida area. I still shout “You Can’t Ride in My Little Red Wagon” to get students attention and play “Streets and Alleys” when we have time for recess. Students at my school think I am a little odd because I will dance and sing without a care in the world but camp taught me that kids connect better with the most ridiculous person in the room. Kids want to be around and care for a person that can make them laugh and make them feel it’s okay to have fun while learning.

During this year I made lifelong friendships with people around the world which provided me the opportunity to travel the world. I even ended up moving from Ohio to Florida with one of my camp friends! I have been the maid of honor in their weddings and even a godmother to their children. The friendships I made during these months have provided me with over 10 years of memories and world exploration and for that I am the utmost grateful. The bonds made with staff and even the kids at camp can be lifelong and meaningful.

I haven’t returned to camp since leaving that summer 10 years ago but I am forever indebted to the experiences it has given to me. I am sure that the woman, educator, and godmother I am today is largely in part to the opportunity, experiences, skills, and friendship I made there. I have never been “one with nature” but I still know how to build that one match fire, make walking tacos, and entertain kids with nothing more than a song. When I stepped into the dining hall in 2008 all I was expecting was a simple summer job, but what I got was worth its weight in gold. A job at Girl Scout Camp is more than just a job. It is a compass to help you find direction and an instruction manual to help you hone the skills needed for the future.

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