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Camp 2017: CITs, Craziness, and Delicious Cookies

Matthew Demchak, Opinion Editor

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Once again, the highlight of my summer vacation was my annual summer trip to YMCA Camp Pinewood. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a summer camp in Twin Lakes, Michigan (about a half-hour drive from Muskegon and about a 3-4 hour drive from here in Kendallville). Pinewood has become my home away from home these past nine years.

As I was going into my senior year in the fall, I was up for taking the second part of the camp’s Counselor in Training (CIT) program. Basically, it’s a program that teaches applicants how to be a counselor. I took the first part of it last year (for how that went down, I wrote an article on that last fall that you can read,) and I really learned a lot.

This year, however, I would learn a lot more and have a lot more fun.

There were four other kids in the program with me. Together, we formed an unbreakable bond of friendship as we took on the challenges of becoming counselors at the camp we love.

Unlike last year, this part of the CIT program lasted for three weeks, going through Sessions 1 and 2.

The first week, Session 1, we mainly just trained together. Team-building activities, such as Peanut Butter River and Minesweeper, helped us work together as a team to conquer obstacles. Working well with different people is critical when working as a counselor. If you can’t work with your colleagues because you don’t get along, there could be severe consequences that no one really wants to deal with.

We also had to complete a service project for camp. In this case, we had to do some planting. Alongside that, we helped set up an arch (think wedding arch) in the same area.

The second week, at the start of the session, we were finally put into cabins with the other campers to help the counselors out. We were also put into activity

rotations, again to help the counselors out and to learn how to teach rotations and act in cabins.

This was pretty much the story of the rest of our time at camp. We were put into cabins and rotations to learn what it truly means to be a camp counselor.

One interesting thing to note is that for the second week, we had to design a game for the entire camp to play during as an evening activity. I am truly impressed at how well our game went. We made the entire thing pirate themed, which allowed us to dress up like pirates (or at least the best we could, considering camp doesn’t have pirate outfits like you would imagine in the movies) and speak like pirates. Our only difficulty was a lack of appreciation from some of the older cabins. But then again, that is something we’ll have to face as counselors.

I think a minor part of how we managed to get through the three weeks without going crazy was probably the cookies. My mom had baked a bunch of cookies for my brother William (who is a counselor at Pinewood), and decided to bake some for me to take up and share with the CITs. They loved them so much that we pretty much ate through all of them within that first week. They gave us the energy we needed to keep going.

This truly was the best year I have ever spent at Camp Pinewood. Though I can no longer be there as a camper, I do plan on applying to work there now that my CIT training is complete. And I know that no matter what happens, my CIT friends will always be with me, and camp will always be my second home.

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