This week’s post is written by Elliott Massingham. This summer is Elliott’s third year at Camp Allen and his impact has been monumental. We talk about campers making an impact on our lives a lot, but Elliott is someone who has made a huge impact on his camper’s lives. He is certainly irreplaceable, and we are honored to have him at Camp Allen! Please read and enjoy.
This is a post that comes directly from a counsellor. A first hand blog, full of first hand thoughts and feelings about the job, the experiences, the challenges and rewards and finally a description of how our days are filled throughout the summer.
So firstly I will begin with the summer so far. One thing I never expected when I first applied for this position was to be coming back for a third year but here I am 3 years in, still loving every second and still so passionate about what we do here, but every year is different, so different in fact that it can feel like a totally different place at times. So it was no surprise that my experiences this year would be different to the last two. It has been a very interesting summer so far, we are almost half way through already and time is flying. I have seen old faces and met new ones and each individual I meet changes my life in their own special way. Session 1 went very well with some incredible individuals walking up that hill! Session 2 threw new challenges my way with an old face, which I relished. Session 3 saw the return of some old friends and I was entrusted to spend time with a man called Clyde who is one of the most amazing men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Now we are half way through session 4, and another new experience has arisen with a new camper coming to Camp Allen. Basically what I am trying to reiterate is that sometimes you can see old faces in the same environment, but nothing should be taken for granted or as a given as new challenges can, and will arise
Which leads me onto talking about challenges and rewards. I don’t really feel like I need to write paragraph after paragraph about the rewards of this job. I think from mentioning that there are some individuals who don’t get love and attention at any other time of the year other than at Camp Allen. There are those who talk about returning for another summer the day they return home and do not stop talking about camp until they return. There are those who will literally change your life in one week and have a more profound effect on you that some people will in a decade. We have a camper who is in his 41st year here so that just speaks volumes about how much our campers love it here. So I think the rewards speak for themselves. I have been given and entrusted with the opportunity to change someone’s life. Someone who maybe doesn’t get the care and attention they deserve until they walk up that hill and that to me is the greatest gift of all. I have always said that it is the hardest however most rewarding thing I have ever done and probably will ever do in my life. There are challenges, obviously, some campers can be very challenging in many ways, for example, someone could have a lot of personal care and be challenging in that respect and someone could be quite independent with daily living like bathing, eating etc. however have very challenging behaviors. So challenges can come from all sorts of places and in all sorts of forms but it is a part of the role we have here and it wouldn’t be the same without those challenges and I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without those and coming out of the other side a better and stronger person for it.
Now I have talked about camp and how special it is, plus all of the challenges and rewards that come with the role it is time to talk about how our days are filled here at Camp Allen.
Firstly the day begins in the cabin with everyone waking up at roughly 7am! Breakfast is at 8:30am and that first period of getting everyone ready for the day can be extremely hands on deck but also extremely fun! Our first activity of the day comes at 9am with an activity that includes the whole of camp, residential and day camp. We come together to take part in what could be a number of activities like scavenger hunts, karaoke, bingo, parachute games etc. At 10am we then start individual cabin activities for example, swimming, arts and crafts, sports, fancy dress, if you can think of it, we will try our best to make it happen for our campers, we move around camp in periods. With two periods before lunch which is at 12:30pm and two after lunch which start again at 2:45pm, following a rest period after lunch. This takes us up until dinner at 5:30pm and then an evening activity at 6pm. Which is one of the highlights of the day and what the day has been tailored towards. It can be anything from jeopardy, name that tune, talent shows and Chinese auction. Again, you name it, we have probably done it or at the very least tried our best to make it happen for our campers.
So that is a little insight into what we do here and a little bit of background about Camp Allen! It truly is a gem of a place and holds a very special place in my heart. I owe so much to Camp Allen and will make sure what I have learned here lives with me for the rest of my life.