The Value of Camp by Jen Dresdow

After nine summers as a full season camper it was an easy decision for my daughter, Natalie, to apply for the CIT program for more value at Camp Runoia. She was excited to not only spend one more summer with her friends, but also participate in a leadership program that would add value and skills to her resume. As a camper, Natalie earned the highest awards in both riding and windsurfing and she looked forward to sharing her passion with younger campers and developing her teaching skills in those areas.

The first challenge CITs face is planning and executing the 4th of July festivities at camp. Though this process Natalie learned some valuable lessons about teamwork, trial and error, and communication. After the 4th, CITs focus on either lifeguard training (LGT) or Junior Maine Guide(JMG). Natalie choose to work towards her lifeguard certification as she hoped to work as a windsurfing counselor in the future. Natalie found the lifeguard training challenging, but with the support of Ally, the head of swimming, she was able to meet all the goals.

During the second part of the summer, the CITs honed their teaching skills. All of the CITs worked with Eliza to complete their level 1 Archery Instructor certification. Natalie spent the majority of her teaching time at the waterfront or at the barn. She further supported the riding program by traveling to shows with the girls and helping them prepare to go in the ring. Additionally, the CITs participated in various community service events.

Like many sixteen year olds, Natalie wanted to get a job to earn money of her own. Before she got home from camp, she was offered a job on Monday evenings at the barn she rides at here in Kansas. Her official title is “gopher”, which entails helping young riders get prepared for their lesson, teaching them to groom and tack, and doing evening chores such as watering and turning out horses. Through this job Natalie is able to continue to gain experience working with children and share her love of horses.

Natalie also applied for a lifeguard position at Jewish Community Center here in Overland Park. She was hired on the spot for the job and works twice a week after school. Lifeguarding is a great job for high school as the shifts are short due to the attention demands and the pay is above average for most jobs available to sixteen year olds. Natalie not only uses her lifeguarding skills at this job, but also sharpens her customer service skills and leadership skills as she navigates the demands of pool goers both young and old.

This fall, Natalie applied and interviewed for a Junior Counselor position at Camp Runoia. She is excited to return for her eleventh summer at camp and work in both the windsurfing and

riding programs. Through these camp experiences, she’s been able to successfully navigate application and interview processes, gain leadership skills, live in a community, and develop her talents. All things that will certainly benefit her as she begins the college application process next fall. Camp has been an integral part of Natalie formative years and invaluable in helping her prepare for college and beyond.

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