I remember my first camp as a junior facilitator. Now I’m one of the coaches. It was truly an amazing memorable experience despite being the only twenty-something in a youth summer camp (I was 23 when I joined Camp L.I.F.E. 2012 through invitation by my former teacher.) as it was just as useful in adulthood and I could learn a lot from its offered workshops such as arts and crafts, comic book, writing, storytelling, dance and music jam. It was also where I met friends I could relate to and whom I considered for lifetime keeps. The camp equally shaped me into a better leader and trained me to assume responsibilities given that I was trained to lead the rest of the campers and to assist the coaches.
These are my six main reasons why I appreciated Camp L.I.F.E. Even now as a coach, I cannot help but reminisce the great times I’ve had during my camper/junior facilitator days.
1/ I LEARNED HOW TO LIVE INDEPENDENTLY.
One of the main purposes of the camp is to teach children and teenagers how to live independently. I’ve always wanted to live on my own as a teen yet only fulfilled my wish as I stayed away from home and spent my week with the campers and coaches. I then had to fix my own bed and proper belongings, to pack my plate after each meal, to wash and hang my dirty clothes and to keep myself groomed without being told. A particular activity named Nutroplex Survivor Challenge taught all of us how to read directions using the compass, map symbols and maps, to build fire, to do first-aid without band aids and other usual wound medicines and to cook rice with bamboo and clay pot (in fact, the rice tasted better when cooked with those despite that it usually took time to cook using them). These may not be as crucially needed when practically living on our own (for instance, when we have our own apartment) but I still found it interesting to discover tribal methods of survival.
2/ I LEARNED A LOT OF NEW THINGS.
I discovered many more things that I had not discovered before that included planning for script and designing a character in Comic Books Workshop. In friendship workshops, I learned that I was once in other campers’ shoes while the band camp motivated me further to improve more in my singing, guitar and piano skills. The latter also helped me in coordinating well with the band.
3/ IT HELPED ME ENHANCE MY TALENTS.
The offered workshops gave me an opportunity to exploit my talent in singing, writing and drawing and develop my creativity, imagination and fast-thinking skills. In addition, I was given a chance to release my inner dancer when I unintentionally joined the dance workshop yet I considered myself more as a band person than a dancer.
4/ I LEARNED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITIES.
A junior facilitator is a camper who leads the rest of the campers and assists the senior facilitators, otherwise known as the coaches. This means that my responsibilities involved others and not just myself and my tasks back then were to monitor whether the girls’ bedroom was fixed and the bathrooms were clean, to distribute snacks when it was time for snacks and to ensure that the campers of the tribe (campers are divided into three tribes known as their teams) was complete through head-count. I took this as an opportunity to train myself in becoming a better leader and I realized that I could be one while I had always known myself as a follower. Besides, I even felt more than proud that the campers admired and looked up to me as their older sister figure.
5/ IT HELPED ME BUILD NEW FRIENDSHIPS.
The primary goals in camp are to form new friends and replenish old ones and as a first-time camper, building new friendships was what camp had in store for me. I found it easier to make friends in camp as it was easy to find someone I could relate to and who shared similar interests as me there despite the fact that many were far from my age. The camp was also where I met my best friends, close friends and band mates.
6/ I LEARNED HOW TO BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER PEOPLE AND MY SURROUNDINGS AND NOT ON MY OWN SELF.
Last but not the least, being considerate to other people was what I learned most in camp. The camp is aimed at both neurotypical and individuals with special needs and it made me realize how blessed I was despite being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a child and growing up with personal struggles and insecurities. Thus, I took these as an opportunity to share my blessings by being a helping hand to individuals with special needs. My experiences helped me understand them better and the camp was an occasion for me, well us, to embrace our differences and to feel that we had our potentials and a chance to develop them further.
I became an apprentice facilitator in my second camp (CAMP L.I.F.E 2014: The Daily Blog of an Apprentice Facilitator) and then a coach in last year’s camp (CAMP L.I.F.E. 2015: Yesterday a camper, now a coach). I am thankful for such opportunity given the unforgettable memories and experiences I have made there and I find it endearing to work with special needs individuals and to bring sunshine in their lives. One does not stop from learning despite the level up. I am way looking forward to what next camp has to offer and it is indeed a fun learning experience.
NB. For some unknown reason, the original entry of Camp L.I.F.E. 2012 experience (CAMP L.I.F.E 2012: Reasons why this camp is worth your summer experience 🙂) was taken down while I was looking for it to promote the camp. One reason I wrote this throwback entry.