As our camping season comes to a close, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our camp staff community. Each of our camp staff has a connection to Chanco in one form or another. Most were campers themselves. Many have attended EYC events at Chanco. All are talented, intelligent, energetic, creative, fun, hard-working, and compassionate Christian young adults who take loving care of our campers all summer long. In describing the value of summer camp counselors, Dr. Michael Thompson, Ph.D., author and psychologist writes in his article “Why Camp Counselors Can Out-Parent Parents”, “College-age students possess a completely different kind of authority than do parents, and they put it to good use getting children to set tables, make beds, keep track of their clothes, take showers, take turns and, more important, take risks and accept challenges that would melt parents into a puddle of anxious empathy. These young adults often teach complex, challenging life-and-death skills: sailing, horseback riding, rock climbing, whitewater kayaking and survival techniques. They also teach character and community, caring and sacrifice. And they do it all in an environment free of electronics: summer camp.”
Our counselors give up air conditioning, electronics, and summer freedom to be at Chanco all summer long. Many give up family vacations and most give up opportunities for higher paying jobs in order to work at Chanco. They don’t do it for the money. They do it for the love of the outdoors, the love of the campers and for the community – no, the family – that is created among a team of summer camp staff. These counselors deal with homesickness, injuries, fears of spiders and insects, friendship issues, hurt feelings, and questions of all sorts all summer long. They encourage a young person to climb a 32-foot high rock-climbing wall or try sailing for the very first time. They witness many firsts and encourage their campers each step of the way. Counselors sacrifice sleep to make rounds in the middle of the night to ensure that all the campers are safely in their bunks or to make costumes, props and decorations that transform the dining hall for our beloved “Big Day” programs. They live with bug bites and sunburn and dirt in order to experience the reward of making a difference in a child’s life. There are campers who will write their counselors throughout the school year. There are campers who will cry when a beloved counselor does not return for the third (or fourth, or fifth) summer. There are campers who will look up to and idolize their favorite counselor long into their own teen and young adult years. There are certainly not enough words of thanks for our summer camp counselors.
At the end of the summer, our camp counselors can look back on their 10 weeks of hard work, pat themselves on the back, and say “job well done”. They can rest assured that they did more than earn a paycheck this summer – they changed lives. At Chanco and throughout our diocese, we (Chanco full-time staff, board and camper parents) are thankful for you. Thank you for teaching more than skills such as archery or rock climbing. Thank you for teaching “character and community, caring and sacrifice”. Thank you for giving your summer to Chanco. God bless you all and may your year ahead be full of good health, learning, and joy and may we see you back on the banks of the James in 2014! Chanco is you.