The Lessons we Learn

Hey Hey World,

Life is all just one big learning curve. Every mistake we make offers the opportunity for growth and every new experience allows us to alter the way we see this world. This year has been a journey of personal growth and an opportunity for me to actually get to know myself. I’m developing the skills that will protect me from the big bad adult world and allow me to flourish even when I’m struggling inside.

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If I’m learning anything during this year of travel and the unknown it’s that expectations and reality rarely match up. Cambodia wasn’t as mystically beautiful as I had dreamt, sleeping in the rainforest just wasn’t the epic adventure I had foreseen and I’m still waiting for that singular moment of self discovery. And now I’m at a Girl Scout Camp in Arizona. When I applied for a summer job with AmeriCamp I pictured a camp somewhere in New England with a lake and forests and log cabins. I set my heart on a performing arts camp in New York and suddenly I could see the entire summer mapped out ahead of me. And yet here I am. But just because here is different, it doesn’t mean that here is bad. Only, it’s hard to separate what might have been from what is, to adjust to the way that life has unfolded. It’s a lesson to make the best of every situation thrown at you, even if what you get isn’t quite what you had wished for. Maybe it’s for the best in fact when things turn out a little less like we had planned. Maybe it’s at times like these that we learn the most.

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So here I am. I’m surviving my time as Unit Leader and am reluctantly preparing to hand back the power and responsibilities after our July 4th break when I return as just a plain old Counselor. Everyday something completely unbelievable happens and so every day I’m learning. I’ve had to make the toughest judgement calls; find the confidence to organise 24 campers and four staff; struggle through basic first aid; keep a whole unit engaged and as dry eyed as possible; listen. This job is tough. Yet having the opportunity to lead a unit here at summer camp may be one of the most valuable weeks of my life. Most days I’m too fraught or exhausted to notice the little joys of working with kids, the smiles we draw from even the most homesick campers, the fears overcome with the help of our encouragement and support. Some days I even question what I’m doing here and whether I should just catch the next flight back to Heathrow. Being camp staff isn’t easy. But we survive each day because we’re not alone. Just one month I’ve known the staff here at Willow Springs, and yet already they are like family to me. I’ve learnt how to form a support network. And not just any support network. It’s a network who know my needs, whether it be a hug, a nap or some cry-scream. Most importantly, they bring me such a sense of safety, acceptance and gentle happiness. So yes, this job is almost impossibly hard and not a day has gone by without me either crying or seriously considering the possibility of just running from camp. However, the safety net of support and love that has formed make the work bearable and even enjoyable as we hope each week that every girl has had fun and grown, despite all the fallouts, nose bleeds and moments when ratio was ever so slightly short.

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As I look ahead to the second half of my time here at Willow Springs I hope for more hammocking trips (I’m slowly learning my way to Hammock Pavillon even though one overnight trip resulted in two consecutive falls for one counselor and the other ended in strong winds and a bit of drizzle), an opportunity to walk the 2 mile perimeter trail and so many more incredible memories with my Willow Springs family. After just four weeks I’m feeling the Girl Scout mission statement as it begins to influence my life. I’m building courage, confidence and character. I believe I can. I can do a whole variety of things that I would never have even thought of trying out. And one day I’ll look back on all these memories and just think “wow!” and also probably “how?”. So as I continue to Consider the Coconut and a whole load of other key camp questions, I hope that you too can grow from your struggles. It’s all about the support network.

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I’ll keep you posted,
Ladybird x

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