Lead with confidence

Ethan Brown

Becoming a counselor at my second home was something I had hoped to accomplish since the day I was dropped off at camp. I viewed my counselors as natural leaders, people who could keep everything together when no one else could. I soon learned it wasn’t that simple.

I began a three-week program called “Counselors in Training” (CIT). We were considered to be the next generation of counselors looking for more experience before applying for the real deal.

I was put in the youngest male cabin my first week as a CIT and it was a week I’ll never forget.

Eight of the nine campers in my cabin had never been away from home before. Most spent their first day somewhat uneasy and vulnerable.

Learning to ease the campers into their week was strange, as my feelings toward camp were always so cheerful.

But as the week progressed, I watched my cabin transform from shy little kids into an outgoing group unafraid to take a leap of faith.

It was through encouragement from me and my co-counselors that they were able to change.

During my second and third weeks at camp, I watched cabins of all ages undergo the same transformation. It was then, I realized, how much of an effect I could have on kids’ daily lives.

You can get along with anyone at camp, that’s the most magical part about it. I’ve seen kids from all walks of life in my nine years there. I’ve watched many drop their emotional baggage and live in harmony.

It was my job to ensure it happened, a responsibility that was tough, but rewarding.

After my training, I concluded certain skills cannot be taught in a classroom. I’ll never forget watching an argument break out and realizing there wasn’t a GLC to calm the situation, and that it’d have to be me to deal with it.

I’ll never forget stepping up and helping out a kid in need, instead of waiting for someone else to do it, as I almost always had.

I’ll never forget my experiences at camp, and I hope to continue going there for as long as I can. Without the mentors, some self-confidence, and a coordinator crazy enough to take on the job of training us, I may not have made it through those weeks. But I did, and I learned that the little things go a long way, and that you can make a huge difference.