Checkmate: Meet Fresh Air Camp Counselor Doğan Can Koyuncu
Camp Counselor and Chess Specialist, Doğan Can Koyuncu, from Ankara, Türkiye shared his experiences at The Fresh Air Fund’s Camp Junior with us. It was the summer before he started his senior year studying economics at Bilkent University, and [was?] full of memories that will last a lifetime.
What was your previous experience working with youth before Camp Junior?
I have taught tennis to youth – similar to the age group of the campers I worked with. I was excited to teach chess! I like to play and have also taught chess to my younger family members and cousins.
Campers shared how much they enjoyed their chess class, what was your focus when you designed the curriculum?
I really wanted to connect the game of chess to real-life problems and situations in some way. I focused on lessons like Decision Making and Chess, Time Management and Chess, Probability and Chess, Problem Solving with Chess, and Computers and Chess. Although the lessons can sound dull, I try to relate them to our daily lives outside of camp with real-world examples. Each class, without touching a single chess piece, we would talk about the lesson topic for the first 20 minutes.
What were some things you observed as you worked with the kids more
After all the discussions and as they learned more about the game, I noticed the class connecting more with each other. The campers were playing different levels of chess, so I encouraged them to support and help each other. As they shared this process of playing while learning and teaching, it was incredible to see them so excited about playing chess with each other even after a long day full of physical activities!
What are some skills you gained while working as a camp counselor that you applied outside of camp?
I learned several things – my time and team management skills improved drastically while working at camp. I also found that working in an environment with diverse people from different backgrounds taught me effective communication.
What are you most proud of as a camp counselor at Camp Junior?I felt very proud when one of the campers who started learning about chess at camp solved one of the most complicated chess puzzles. It was amazing to see how fast they could improve in such a short time and understand that it is more than the game – they learned sportsmanship and respect for each other.
Why was The Fresh Air Fund’s Camp Junior a special place to work at? All campers at Camp Junior are very special and the shared memories I created with fellow counselors made this summer unforgettable.