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The place that shaped me – PART 2: Summers 4-6

The story continues… So normally when I write blog posts I have a certain sense of freedom being able to write what I want because I ultimately assume that no one will read it. But now writing this I know that people will read it and I know who these people will be which will ultimately affect what I say. But that’s ok I have nothing to hide. So let’s dive back into it shall we? Summer 4 (2016)

I often say to people that 2016 was my favourite year at camp and people normally recoil in bemusement. Every year at camp is great, but of course some years are better than others. A lot happened in the summer of 2016 and I can see why it wasn’t people’s favourite summer. And for a long time I knew that I had a great summer in 2016 but I couldn’t really put my finger on why. But looking back 2 years later I know exactly why. Firstly being at camp at that specific moment in time was so beneficial for me. I was doing my Masters and was having some “personal troubles”. So getting away from it all and spending a few months in the woods was kind of like therapy. Also I must say this was probably the year that cemented some of my strongest relationships. It was definitely a summer of two halves. My first group of kids were a challenge to say the least. And I always joke about that TIC group not being too great but honestly they taught me so much and I feel we all bonded going through that experience. And there was a time where I felt like I lost them. Miles you know what I’m talking about. To this day I don’t think I regret what we did but I regret the way it played out. But enough of me speaking cryptically. The second half of the summer proved to be a complete 180. And I am not joking when I say this but the second half of summer 2016 changed my life on so many levels. Coming off the back of a TIC group that made me work harder than I ever had and needed me to take on more of an authoritarian role this time round I was able to be a bit more lax and I felt more like an older brother. And I don’t know what it was but I just bonded with this group on a different level. Part of why I love working at camp and especially with the older kids is because of that connection you can have with them and being the Counselor in Training Director gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. I love teaching them all leadership skills but what I love more is getting to know them all individually and supporting them emotionally. And my emotional maturity has not been tested more. One friendship that really blossomed for me was with a young girl who goes by the name of Toby Shore. I had no previous relationship with this girl but by the end of the summer it was like we’ve known each other for years. And that relationship continues today but 2016 was also about strengthening former relationships, Isabelle, Rayna, Ethan, Myles, Andrew, Lily, Rylee and Michael, thanks for everything you did for me but also everything you did for each other. Some of my highlights of the summer include, Phonegate, Cheska’s leaving celebrations, a conversation I had with Rayna, Isabelle and Toby and giving Toby her banquet gift. This was also the first year I got to make the camp video which perfectly wrapped up my summer. Unfortunately I was unable to stay much after camp ended because I had a Masters to finish but hey ho. Favourite memory: Picking up trash on an early morning with Violet. Summer 5 (2017)

2017… I remember it like it was yesterday. This was the first year I really get to experience being on staff with a bunch of my former CITs. Unless you’ve been CIT Director you will never quite understand the connection you have with your TICs. I may be repeating myself a lot but it is something I truly cherish. And having relationships with a lot of them in the real world meant I was so excited to be able to work with a lot of them. But your excitement for the future never really turns into reality does it. And this isn’t to say I didn’t have a great time working with them it was just harder than I imagined. 2017 was all about me becoming accustomed to this new dynamic. Because it’s all well and good developing these close relationships but that can all become undone in 2 months. Trust me I’ve seen it. Living and working with people that you were previously a mentor to and had to care of can be both emotionally and professionally taxing. Because now you not only have to focus on the job at hand but you also need to maintain all your old relationships whilst developing new ones. Things get a bit wild and people expect things from you that you’re just unable to give. I must say it was a huge learning curve for me but I don’t think it necessarily defined my summer however it did come with a lot of personal troubles also. But 2017 was also the year of change. We got a new Camp Director and a completely new cabin so CDW seemed like it was a different place. You know when a TV series gets a new showrunner and its still the same show but everything within it changes. Yeah, it was kind of like that. And I really felt it, there was a completely new vibe amongst staff as a whole and Ad staff for that matter. I had a new co which was a shock after working with Efrosini for so long. It was a shock, but I was also excited. Rachel was one of few people I actually developed a relationship with in my first year so I was excited to get the opportunity to work more closely with her. Plus it also meant that the TIC programme was going to get a completely fresh set of eyes. I was a bit wary that now doing the same job for the 3rd year the programme would get a bit stale but I also wanted to make sure that everything I had brought wasn’t being completely disregarded. Transitioning was difficult, but if I am one thing, then I am a people person and highly adaptable. The main change we encountered with the programme, which was no decision of ours, we had 10 TICs in the first session. And I never thought this would be a huge difference. But it really was. It made for a completely new dynamic and means that I had to be emotionally open to more people. I did feel as though I wasn’t able to get to know that group of TICs as well as I would’ve liked but I think it is one of the TIC sessions I am most proud of. We saw huge growths in every single one of them and being able to accommodate 10 TICs for the first time was quite the achievement and is now the standard. I always said having 10 TICs made more sense than having 9. It was especially strange though going to 8 TICs for the second half. Not only did the numbers decrease but it was just a completely different experience. I think a lot of it was down to this gr oup being older on average. Not that the first group were immature but the age difference really showed. Unfortunately the number did decrease to 7 which meant the session was like none other I’ve ever experienced. It was also the first time I had a TIC that was previously in my Cotoxin. I think this group was perhaps one of the easiest I’ve ever had. The only thing I was concerned about was the interactions the group was having. I was very concerned about how the group would interact with each other and I think up until this point it was something I had taken for granted and didn’t think too much about. But it was all good, the only thing I had to worry about was Eliza calling me overrated. I became especially close with my fellow Ad Staff members especially my babes Amanda who apparently I am desperately in love with. But that friendship and the already established one I had with Efrosini really did get me through the summer and I was forever grateful for both of them. I was ready for 2017 to be my last summer as TIC director and treated it as such. I was also open to it being my last year at camp but you all know I can never quite stay away. It perfectly ended with me spending a few weeks at camp doing some off-season stuff and becoming particularly close with my gal Francesca. If I had to rank summer 2017 it would probably be firmly mid table. Favourite Memory: BANQUET Summer 6 (2018)

I think the summer of 2018 was probably the summer where I was the most anxious about going back. Coming off the back of a somewhat difficult summer where I faced some unforeseen issues i was very weary about new challenges I would face. I was now going into my 6th summer so not only would other people expect a lot from me but I was expecting a lot from myself. I didn’t want to repeat the mistakes I made from the previous summer and I would now be surrounded by a bunch of people I am incredibly close with but having to operate within a completely new relationship dynamic. I think this is something I always underestimate. When you get the opportunity to work with people you love then you’re automatically excited. But you forget that you can’t act the way you do in the real world. Imagine working with your friends and trying to get away with the shenanigans you normally get up to. Especially if one of you is technically the others ones boss. It just isn’t possible. But that’s not the main issue. Part of my job at camp means that I am not readily available and rarely around other staff members. So whilst I’m off doing my ish, other relationships are forming and even though it’s silly to think you have to compete with others it does sometimes feel that way. You can feel as though you are losing your established relationships to other people. And I’ve had enough summers to know that this isn’t the case but it really doesn’t stop you from thinking it. So I spent this summer being hyper-aware of this fact but because this was my 4th summer as CIT Director I wanted to give the programme my full attention, I did prioritise my work as opposed to my relationships. And yeah it created some tension. I don’t regret it though because not only did it allow me to do my job effectively but it also made it clear to me how much I really do cherish the relationships I have. And even though we had two amazing TIC sessions they didn’t come without their issues. It was amazing to have two completely different groups of kids but both incredible sessions. Speaking of the second session in particular I faced a problem that I had never faced before. And even though it really did suck for my group of kids I thrived being in a position to rectify the situation for them. And I must say I think we handled the situation swimmingly. Oh and I just need to add. Lyla, you coming back to CDW after so long and fitting in so seamlessly was absolutely beautiful. I was so nervous and had no idea how you’d integrate but being your TIC director was a pleasure as it was very every single one of my TICSs in 2018. This was also a summer where I didn’t have certain people that I had been particularly close with the summer before. And I think it affected me more than I anticipated. Part of staying sane at camp is having those people you vent to. And boy did I have a lot to vent about this summer. It’s not the same venting to people who are not in the situation with you. A lot of my frustrations this summer however I felt I was mature enough to just get over. I am very much at that point now where I don’t let myself get emotional or stressed over camp drama. Yes things get hard but at the end of the day camp is such a bubble and your emotions are heightened. I think I’ve learnt just to take a step back and get on with life but this in no way means I don’t care. I tried to make 2018 as stable as I could and obviously nothing at camp is ever that stable so needless to say it didn’t happen but I can honestly say coming out of the summer I was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. It was the first time where I was genuinely considering not coming back so was very much treating it as if it could be my last summer and I wanted it to end as positively as possible. I also made some great new relationships with campers and we did some new things throughout the summer that we’ve never done before. It almost felt as though camp had been rebooted. Staff was amazing, returners and newbies alike and Ad Staff completely smashed it as they have been since 2015 haha. I also believe off-season was a key reason why 2018 was great for me. Even though I had worked off season before this, this off season was different. I think just being able to work so closely with such a small group of people and just working so hard to get camp ready for the summer was just a great experience and perhaps one of my favourite camp memories. If 2018 is to be my last summer working at CDW then I am happy. Favourite Memory: All of pre-summer off season

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