February 09, 2023 Category: What's New? Fresh Air Fun Meet Fresh Air

A Letter To Future First Time Camp Counselors 

Dear Wonderful Camp Counselors,  

Congratulations on submitting your application and making the best decision to spend it at Fresh Air camp this summer! I know how difficult the application process can be. However, the boring part is over, and the best is yet to come. You deserve your position as a counselor and your hard work has paid off. Now I want to be the first one to welcome you to camp, most importantly… Welcome home. I am beyond happy that you have made it and I cannot wait to see you create tons of memories.  

Whether it’s your first or 3rd summer at camp, I totally recognize the feeling of being nervous, excited, overwhelmed, eager and more. Trust me, you are not alone. I feel the same way every year I came back as a camper and now as a staff member. The nerves keep coming back but it slowly eases away after you find your voice and create new friendships.  

I guarantee that at the end of the summer you will not want to leave this camp. The bond you create with everyone is bittersweet – not only with counselors but with campers as well. Right now, you probably have a lot of questions about how camp will be and what it feels like to be a counselor but let me say, camp has endless great opportunities. A great balance of being a role model and having fun! 

Alright, a little more about me. I began my journey at Camp ABC when I was 9 years old and came back every single year after. Now that I am 19, I always reflect on why I kept coming back and it’s because I knew camp was my safe space. My second home. Compared to school, I was able to find friends more easily, be myself and grow as a person. I liked being around nature and hiking in the woods. I always felt so touched getting to know new friends that also had the same interest or talent as me. It’s a blessing to be able to try new things, for example swimming in the lake. 

As a camper, I was never homesick, but I understand if you have these feelings because I know it can be hard being away from home. I was always shy, but I liked the independence of being away from my parents and figuring it out on my own. After a couple days, I eventually spent a lot of time talking to new people, developing new hobbies outdoors, and applying them to my own life when my camp summers were over. Camp healed a lot of my pain from when I was in school getting bullied – another reason why I kept coming back. I learned how to build my independence, take on more responsibilities for myself and make my own decisions. Being in nature also generated a lot of joy and creativity that helped me concentrate.  

As I kept on coming back and reaching a certain age, I was placed in the Leaders-In-Training (LIT) program. This program helped me a lot in forming myself into a better individual and a leader. It gave me the strength and perseverance to push for what I wanted in life with my future careers. Some of the workshops we had were body image, unhealthy/ healthy relationships, communication workshops and those all gave me a better mindset of who I was as a child and how I started to mature. It taught me to speak in large groups, achieve goals and plan activities. After sticking with the LIT program for 4 years, it inspired me to take that next step in becoming a general counselor. I thought the LIT program offered me a great way to evolve in my relationship with camp as well as help give the experience to new future generations of campers.  

Last summer was my first year at camp as a counselor. I was very nervous the first couple of days. I felt pressure to take care of the campers while trying to figure out a good routine for myself. I’ve learned that every day is a new day, and it gets easier. As a general counselor, the best feeling was putting a smile on my campers faces. Encouraging them made me feel accomplished because for some campers, this was their first time away from home. Spending time with my campers was the highlight of my day.  

Lastly, as you get ready to be a counselor, I would love to end with words of encouragement. My number 1 advice is do not ever let anyone discourage you from trying something new. Camp is a place where you can build confidence and focus on your experiences. With a positive mindset you can achieve anything. A quote that my supervisor once told me and I want to share with you is, “You have it in your heart, you just have to show it and do it.” Always remember to ask for help because I am sure there are other counselors that might have the same question. No matter what you’re studying in school, or what field of work you’re pursuing, the skills you learn at camp can stand out on your resume. We all grow at camp, both counselors and campers, and seeing it at the end of summer is always so beautiful.  

Safe travels and welcome to camp again. Can’t wait to meet you soon 🙂  

With love and blessings,  

Effie Pang