Back in my hometown, I dedicated my professional work to being a mentor to the youth of my community. I tended to gravitate to organizations that involved interacting with middle school kids, high school students, and incoming college freshmen during the school year. I loved it! The kids I worked with were so amazing and had such unique personalities I feel lucky to have met them and be able to guide them. Of course, there would be conflict with either I or peers when we didn’t see eye to eye, but the majority of the times we resolved these conflicts and things would end well. So, when I was told that I would be a camp counselor for Nature Adventure & Nature Survival Camp hosted by Lewis and Clark National Historical Park (LEWI), I figured that it’s the same kind of job I did before and I would be just fine.

However, at the time I did not consider that some of these kids were younger (roughly ages 9-10), most of them didn’t know WHAT I was eating for lunch, and that I did not know how to connect with kids with a limited time frame.

It was very much one of the FUNNEST learning experiences as an intern, but after the two weeks of doing both camps back to back I was tired to the bone, literally.

I didn’t consider that being a camp counselor was a tough job! Other than updating rosters, translating evaluation forms, prepping activities for the whole week prior, talking to concerned parents, and taking care of their kids during the day was definitely intimidating.

Nature Adventure Camp was the first one and was created for kids who were are in fourth to fifth grade. It was great meeting the campers on the first day and getting to know them throughout the week. There were plenty of crafty and outdoor activities for them to do. We made salmon and friendship bracelets, did rock painting, made duck tape wallets, and I took them fishing, paddling, water play, etc. It was fun, but the highlight for me in that camp was being able to stay overnight at the replica of Fort Clatsop in LEWI. During Nature Adventure Camp they are usually half days when we stay with the kids and one overnight stay at the Fort. For the overnight stay we had the whole day planned out, with the majority of the day dedicated to hiking the 6.5 miles  on the Fort to Sea Trail in LEWI. I was surprised that most of the kids looked forward to the hike, where as I was a little doubtful about whether I could handle it. It would be my first time hiking it too, so in a way I felt like I was a camper myself experiencing camp for the first time.

The hike was long and hard, but at the same time stunningly beautiful. There was so much green, with bird sounds and unique overlooks throughout the hike, so I made sure I took a lot of photos to share with my family back home. Our first break was at an overlook that showed trees without end and we had our lunch there.  We then packed up our stuff and continued into the heavily congested area filled with native plants of the Northwest Pacific Coast. Eventually along the trail there was a shift in the environment, where we were no longer surrounded by trees and plants but by cattle farms and small gates the the trail led through! The cows were up close and personal, probably the closest I have ever been to them in my life. It was at a little over the half way point that the trail changed again! Instead of dried wheat grass everywhere, there was sandy soil and the wind was more chilly. Soon enough, the campers and I could hear the waves of the ocean and the trail that we were walking on had become sandy. After all that hard work and taking a lot of breaks along the way, we had finally made it to the end of the trail. We (including staff) were rewarded with time spent at the beach and preparing dinner for the campers. The day had to come to an end, and we finished camp in the most traditional way possible: with s’mores over the campfire. Camp counselors guided the kids into their designated bunks with their bunkmates, and it was lights out for the night and for Nature Adventure Camp!

However, for most of the camp counselors this was not the end, as there was still Nature Survival Camp that had to be done!

Encuentra Tu Parque,

Edith J.

 

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Written by Edith Jimenez
A Chicanx from Los Ángeles exploring America's Best Idea through these brown eyes!