I came across this great blog post on Twitter the other day. Her words not only speak to how impactful camp is for kids but what how camp lessons creat great adult leaders.

Thanks Kim, cant wait to here more about camp this summer!

post from Kim Hollingsworth

I work at a summer camp in Denver called Dream BIG Day Camp.  It’s by far the best job I’ve ever had.  My brother worked there for four years until he graduated college and had to get a “big boy job” and is the reason I was hired last summer.  At first, I was really nervous.  I had never really worked with kids before, and to make matters worse, the only reason I accepted the job was because I had broken up with my boyfriend from home and so all my summer plans had been ruined.  So, after school ended and I had moved out of my sorority house, I headed down to Parker and moved in with my aunt for the summer.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Walking into orientation the first day was terrifying.  The only person I knew was my brother, but as a head counselor, he was busy doing other things.  I timidly introduced myself to the 80 other staff members, but as the orientation week went on, I became more and more comfortable, and more and more excited for camp to begin.  I was assigned as a Group Counselor for the Koalas, the oldest girl group at camp, hosting 16 young girls aged 9 to 11.  

It was the best summer of my life.

Joining the Dream Team was the best decision I ever made (with a lot of help from my mom and brother, let’s be real).  I met the most amazing people and basically got paid to play with kids all day.  Watching these young girls grow throughout their time at camp was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.  Witnessing them try hard and do kind things for their peers was amazing and fills my heart with joy.

I was asked to come back to camp this year, but this time as a Group Leader.  I could not be more honored.  Group Leaders differ from Group Counselors in that they are in charge of their group of campers, as well as their staff.  GLs essentially help run the camp.  It’s a lot more responsibility and trust being placed on my shoulders.

This weekend I attended Group Leader Training, and I have to say, I haven’t been this inspired or excited in a long time.  I have the utmost respect for all of my peers and colleagues; knowing that it is up to us to fulfill the expectations of all of our staff and campers is no longer a threatening feeling.  Because they believe in me, I have the confidence to go out and make a difference.

Denver Nuggets head coach, George Karl, came and spoke with us this morning about leadership.  Here is a man who has dealt with cancer, jealous teammates, star players (see jealous teammates), the furthest traveling Nuggets team in the playoffs, and a big mid-season trade – all within the last few years – and he is full of joy.

He spoke about the importance of positive reinforcement, enthusiasm, hard work, and teamwork.  I am so inspired that as I write this, I think that he might be one of the smartest, most caring, and most likable NBA coaches.  I’m a huge Nuggets fan, but after meeting George and hearing him speak with such passion about what he does, I think that he has become one of my greatest role models.

He quoted a couple of famous dead guys, but one of his very own that really stuck with me is: “it’s impossible to be angry when you’re laughing.”  The message is so simple and yet so spot-on.  The little things in life really are the most important.  You have to live your life to be happy and to laugh and to engage with others.  Leaders are people who help to spread this ideology.  

Not to be cocky, but I consider myself a leader.  Not everyday, of course, but when it counts.  I think that I can be that person to turn a frown upside-down, to encourage, and to push others to be their best.  It’s thanks to camp that I feel this way.  I can’t wait for camp to start so that I can lead my campers and my staff towards being the great people that I know everyone can be.  I want everyone to feel as empowered as I do right now, and to live their lives that way, because frankly, it’s the only way.  Life is too short to be anything less than great.