High School Camp Counselor
We’re charmed to have Lilly a part of the Northlight family. She’s joined us as both a camper and now counselor-in-training. To get a sense of what camp is like, we’ve asked her to talk about her experiences.
I really disliked acting as a kid. Being the center of attention always made me uncomfortable, so when I got to middle school and had to take a theatre class, I feared every single performance I had to do. Although acting wasn’t my thing, I discovered my passion for directing by assistant directing our school plays. When my Mom told me that she had signed me up for Northlight Theatre Camp, I was terrified. Though she assured me that they would find a way for me to direct, I couldn’t get past the fact that I was going to have to do a big performance on stage.
As I walked in on the first day of camp, I looked around at the other campers, who clearly knew each other from years past, sitting and talking in small circles, and I felt out of place. As a tall, quiet eighth grader, I started to realize that I stuck out amongst my shorter, younger, louder peers. I put my things down, put on a name tag, and began to aimlessly walk around the room. Just then, a counselor approached me, sensing my nervousness, and struck up a conversation with me about my favorite types of games. As our discussion turned sillier and sillier, I could feel my first day jitters fading away. More kids began to join in with comments, she introduced me to each and every person, making sure that I knew them and they knew me. When it was time for lunch, she made sure that I had a group to sit with. In the afternoon, during rehearsal, the directors of my show pulled me aside and explained to me that I would be playing a character in the show, but that they would find opportunities for me to direct as well. During the next couple weeks of camp, my directors challenged me to act, sing, and dance with everyone else. They also found specific times in the show where I could take the lead on directing, they let me block an entire scene, and they found resources for me to read so I could learn more about directing. Their constant attention to both my wants and needs was something that I wanted every camper to experience, so the next session, I became a staff member.
The transition from camper to staff was hard. As a counselor, you have to be tuned into the needs of each and every kid you have at camp. They are all in a different place in terms of education, as well as socially and emotionally. As a staff, we work very hard on “meeting our campers where they are,” helping them develop their skills, but making sure that they are comfortable. My little brother joined Northlight camp two years ago, and I have seen him completely transform from a shy little kid into a confident young man. I feel good knowing that he has been changed by this camp just as much as I have.