Counselors reflect on camping experience
For a week, upperclassmen counselors were sent along with the 8th grade class to Calvin Crest, where students studied outside of the traditional classroom setting. Seniors Trevor York and Julianne King provide insight into the experience, where they believed they were able to connect with the eighth graders on a personal level.
Each year, a small number of high school juniors and seniors volunteer their time for a week as counselors at the eighth grade Calvin Crest retreat. In this article, seniors Trevor York and Julianne King recount their experience at the camp, where they did everything from supervising cabins to belaying.
Eight high school cabin leaders and some 49 eighth grade students embarked on a journey to Calvin Crest to experience school in an outdoor setting and, ultimately, grow closer as a class.
Although the camp was designed for eighth graders, the cabin leaders gained further insight on how to lead effectively. Moreover, as cabin leaders, we attempted to set an example for the eighth grade students and develop a mentorship as upperclassmen for a week ending Sept. 16.
We each experienced camp differently. Where Trevor encountered camp from a boys' point of view as a counselor for a group of rowdy, prepubescent boys, Julianne was a girls' counselor, and faced the different issues that dramatic, eighth grade girls deal with. Despite this, the class was very obedient and eager to learn together.
"... by Friday, we had established lasting relationships with the students that equated to something an older sibling would have." --Trevor York and Julianne King, '12
One of the benefits of being a leader is free time assignments, which range from sitting outside the general store to belaying students on the rock wall.
When belaying, it was Julianne's job to encourage and guide students' steps as they steadily got higher, and attempted to climb each station at the wall. Sometimes it took as little as two minutes for a climb; at other times, they were up on the wall for about ten minutes. Even if her arms were killing her and her fingers were black, Julianne believes that her heartening words allowed them to push past the difficulty and continue on.
Whether it be through dinner or activities, counselors were able to interact with the eighth grade students and share intimate answers to insightful questions.
One of Julianne's favorite moments was during free time, yet Trevor's were something entirely different. Trevor enjoyed meal time, as it allowed him to get to know the class as a whole. Every meal, a cabin leader is required to sit at a different table -- every table consists of seven to eight students.
Trevor found that every meal he got to know the students better and become friends with them on a more personal level. He would ask them questions such as their favorite place to hang out or what their dream job would be. By Friday, Trevor found that he sincerely got to know most, if not all, of the students at camp.
Outside of classes and free time, counselors and students were given the most time to establish a relationship during cabin time. Each night after chapel, cabins were given about one hour before lights out, during which we discussed a variety of topics. In Trevor's cabin, he asked the questions: "Why did God create us?" and "What's our purpose?"
The variety of topics in the girls' cabin depended on the issues discussed during chapel that night, or what questions Julianne had on her heart. Julianne asked them questions about their identity at school, their friends and God. Most of the time, answers were truthful, but they were surface level and lacking.
Julianne believes that her experience from high school gave her knowledge, which allowed her to relate to the girls' responses and helped her give insightful answers to the questions.
Toward the end of the week, students really started connecting with us as more than counselors. We would both say that when the cars left on Monday headed towards Calvin Crest, the students saw us simply as rule enforcers. Yet, by Friday, we had established lasting relationships with the students that equated to something an older sibling would have.
For more information on the eighth graders' retreat, read the Sept. 21 article, Annual Calvin Crest retreat educates eighth graders. For more columns, read the Sept. 23 article, Holocaust account challenges sophomore (VIDEO).