Only two more hours left and then I get to go home and sit in the air conditioning” I thought to myself as sweat was dripping down my face. It was in the muggy day in the middle of July and I was stuck outside watching a bunch of bratty kids run around in the woods playing tag and hide and seek. A few months earlier, I was applying for the Camp Counselor job at the M. E Lyons YMCA, which would be my first job. In the beginning of the summer, I had no idea that being a counselor would be extremely challenging, but very rewarding in the end.
Day Camp at the YMCA consisted of several kids from all around Anderson Township coming together for eight hours everyday Monday through Friday. The ages of these kids varied from being six years old to thirteen. The majority of the kids that came to camp had already known each other due to the fact that they had attended the same elementary school. In the beginning of the day, moms and dads and grandparents would come and drop off their kids while they went to work or did other activities. So, all of the campers would go down to “circle” where we would sing songs and do skits and announce the schedule for the day.
Then, we would play games and go to the pool. After that, the campers would eat lunch and have “free time” while the counselors cleaned. At the end of the day, they campers would go back down into the woods and we’d do “circle” again and wait for all of the campers to be picked up. Needless to say, after every day I was exhausted and worn out. Of course I had one of the worst kids in the camp, Marcus. It was his second year at the M. E. Lyons YMCA camp and the rest of the staff knew all about him, except for me. He never wanted to do any kind of activities and he always wanted to be by himself.
However, whenever we would play baseball, he would try and convert it into a game of dodgeball by trying to hit the other campers with the ball. No matter how many times the other counselors yelled at him for being disobedient he would never listen. The only person he would listen to was me. Every Camp Counselor receives a nickname that all of the campers call us by, mine being Pinky. The other counselor names consisted of Papaya, Pikachu, Pachinko, Pancake, and Pumbaa. Marcus never told me why, but he “loved” my nickname which is why he liked me out of the other Counselors.
He also told me that I was the only one who really listened to what he had to say and that I was the sister that he never had. To make sure Marcus did not injure campers by throwing balls at them, he became my “Camp Assistant”. So, Marcus would follow me all around the YMCA and pick up trash and helping me lead activities. We would make a deal that if he was good and did not throw a fuss throughout the day, then he would get a star that he would put on his backpack and once he obtained five stars he would receive a surprise.
Later that summer, I found out that Marcus did not have the best life at home. His father ended up leaving his mother once he found out he was going to have a son and as a result Marcus’s mother drank all of her worries away and went out every night with a different guy. Marcus was never able to make any friends in school or play any sports because his mother was never home to take him to practice and he was an only child.. She would even be late picking him up from camp. So, I decided to take him under my wing. Later in the week, Marcus came in with the same clothes that he had worn the day before.
Also, his mother did not sign him in like she usually does. A few of the other campers had noticed and started pointing and whispering to each other about it. I took Marcus inside the building with me so we could find him another pair of clothes and to figure out what was going on. It turned out that his mother had gone out with a man the night before and never came home so Marcus didn’t change clothes a shower. He really wanted to go to camp so he decided to walk. The look on his face brought tears to my eyes once he told me what happened..
He said that he couldn’t understand why his mother never came home and if she still loved him since she was always out with a guy.. I reassured him that she did and talked to him for a long time. On the last day of camp, Marcus had written me a letter stating how much he would miss me and that he couldn’t wait to see me next year. He had also thanked me for being there for him when no one else was. Although I dreaded going to work most days, I am glad I did. Working as a Camp Counselor had a significant and positive impact in my life.