First-time summer camp staffer offers her ‘Lessons From Scout Camp’

It was her first time as a paid camp counselor. It was the longest she had been away from home or lived in a tent. It made her laugh, learn and, at times, cry.

Those six-and-a-half weeks at summer camp were the best of Lydia Grande’s life.

Lydia, 18, spent her summer as a counselor at Camp T. Brady Saunders of the Heart of Virginia Council. You might remember she brought us her “5 Things Scouting Has Taught Me” earlier this year. (Read more of her writing here.)

Now she’s back with an equally fascinating look at her first time serving on camp staff. Don’t miss her “Lessons From Scout Camp,” below.

Lessons From Scout Camp

By Lydia Grande

Six-and-a-half weeks of lessons learned, skills developed and patience tested. Late nights, long days, lots of laughter, sweat and, at times, frustrated tears.

“Boy Scout camp counselor”: That was the title I held the bulk of my summer. I was one of five female staffers in a sea of about 50 on staff.

It was a summer of firsts:

  • First time being a paid camp counselor.
  • First time living in a tent for more than two days at a time.
  • First time being away from home, by myself, for more than a week.
  • First time being in a rowboat … at 6 a.m., no less!
  • First time staying up until 3 a.m. talking about life with my fellow staffers.

Yes, I had lots of firsts. Lots of learning experiences, too. I learned how …

  • … people communicate in different ways, and there’s a best way to communicate with each person.
  • … to deal with people who didn’t think I should be at camp — much less be teaching.
  • … the way I say something is just as important as what I say.
  • … to live among a family of almost all guys.
  • … to teach skills that I barely know myself.
  • … to ask for help.
  • … to love different people where they were.
  • … to laugh at myself.

The list could go on and on!

Five takeaways:

  1. Going the extra mile makes a difference, especially when done in the spirit of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  2. Doing your best in a cheerful and organized manner — even when you feel tired, sweaty and have very little idea what you are doing — goes a long way toward setting an example for the Scouts and staff around you.
  3. If the boys see you having fun, they will be more willing to jump into tasks and learn new skills. A song or a word of encouragement lightens the mood.
  4. Actually learn the names of the boys you are around and something about them. There is something special about being at a camp of 300 boys and knowing that someone took the time to try to learn your name.
  5. If the boys see you make mistakes and try again, they are more likely to keep trying until they get it right. Everyone makes mistakes, but the failing does not come in the falling down, but in the staying down. So you had a rough day? It’s OK. Tomorrow is a new day, and the sun will rise.

How did your summer camp compare?

If you served on staff or attended summer camp this summer, did your experience match Lydia’s? Leave a comment below.