The summer before my first year of high school, I realized that I had never gone to a summer sleep-away camp. I asked my mom if I could still go and we researched away and got the help of a company that aids people in finding a summer camp perfect for the child’s needs and interests. Camp Ocean Pines came into my radar of search and I held interest the second I read the name. Being from Las Vegas, Nevada, I wanted a camp near the ocean for sure. The woman helping me in my search said I might not enjoy this particular camp because everyone going has already been going for several years and are like a close nit family. I decided I didn’t care about that and went anyway.
The first picture features me in my very first Camp Ocean Pines activity, Bottle Rockets. I was super shy and still weary of the place because I hadn’t made any close friends. My second week there, on the first day I met a girl named Julia, who became my very best friend instantly. I met Cole on a Tide Pool adventure and from then on us three were inseparable. We did our activities together, sat together at meals, laughed at the same jokes at campfire. We came during the same session again the next year but then it became pretty difficult for us all to go during the same sessions because we were the ages of CITs and JCs. Cole was a CIT first and said it was a ton of fun so I decided to apply as well.
The summer I was a CIT was my third year and Trout was in charge of the Teen Leadership program. Julia and Cole were not there and it was almost as if it were my first year all over again, only this time I knew a few counselors and pro-cords. That summer taught me a lot about self-confidence. I was constantly nervous about getting into someone’s way or being too helpful but then I realized that I was there to help and there to learn. My next summer when I was a Junior Counselor was much more impactful in terms of learning to be a better leader and understanding what it means to be a super staff member. As a Junior Counselor, I was placed in the youngest girl’s cabin with a counselor named Bambi. Racecar Driver had put so much faith in me that they gave me my very own “counselor day” where I was in charge of the campers in my cabin for a whole day. Bambi would still be around but I was in charge of waking them up, getting them ready on time, making sure they’re always staying together, ensuring they all get to their activities on time, and all the works that come along with being a counselor. It was one of the hardest days and one of the best days of camp I have ever had. I had to stay organized and punctual all while making every single second jam-packed with fun. I got to lead my own activity with my campers which is more than the usual JCs get to do. When the day was done I got an evaluation on my day and my activity. Bambi provided me with valuable information on how I could improve my performance in leading my activity and being a counselor.
By the end of the week, I was super proud of myself for all of the work I had done. Bambi and several other counselors had built my confidence up super high because of how well they said I was able to handle counselor duties. This past summer taught me to be confident in my abilities. I know I still have a little ways to go before I can be an amazing counselor but I am so happy that I got to be a part of this amazing Teen Leadership Program and got to be a Junior Counselor with an amazing cast of counselors.
I am forever grateful to Camp Ocean Pines for the most amazing four summers of my life. Everytime I come back to COP I feel like I have rediscovered a part of myself I don’t get to express in my busy city life. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me and for Camp Ocean Pines.
I can’t wait for next summer!!!
Camper to Junior Counselor
Makenzie Tafralian a.k.a. “Taffy”