Maybe you’ve seen a few crazily dressed groups of students singing songs out by Weniger on the weekends and you’ve been wondering if they’ve gone crazy since the beginning of midterms. Well the answer is they are training to be a Camp Adventure counselor. If you haven’t yet heard of Camp Adventure you are definitely missing out! Camp Adventure is a program created in Oregon that is now nation wide. It allows college age students to intern on US Military Bases working with the kids to create a fun and supportive summer camp. We aren’t just any camp though. Every Camp A counselor is trained over several months and held to strict standards because we believe that magic happens when reality exceeds your expectations, and we counselors are ALL about the MAGIC. I know it sounds cheesy singing songs, dressing up, and playing games, but we have fun and enjoy making a positive difference in a child’s life. To show you what we really do, I want to tell you a little about my past summer as an intern.
Last summer was my first time working as a Camp A intern, and it was also my first real summer away from home. I was placed in Vicenza, Italy which is a good sized city right between Verona and Venice in northern Italy. USAG Vicenza is a small Army post with a beautiful childcare center divided into two sections. I worked on the school age side where we ran camp from 6:30 am to 6 at night. The days were always packed with excitement. Usually it was a routine schedule that included clubs, activity time, and trip to the base’s pool or bowling alley. Every Wednesday was field trip day! We went zip-lining in Asiago (yes, that would be where they make the cheese), got to visit multiple amusement parks, and went on an incredible hike through the Italian mountains.
Every day came with its own challenge. These kids had it hard. Many of them had parents who were away and it was common to see those emotions come out. I came away with so much respect for all these children and their families, not to mention the regular center staff who dedicate their time to helping out. I learned so much about myself and about working with kids. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. BUT Camp Adventure isn’t all work! While we dedicate our time to being with the kids and creating magic during the week, we travel on the weekends. Camp Adventure allows you to grow your skills as a future teacher, but it also allows you to widen your understanding of the world. As interns we went on our own crazy adventures. One weekend we went canyoning in the mountains of Interlaken, Switzerland. That means we hiked up a canyon and worked our way down it by repelling down rocks, and jumping down waterfalls. Crazy? YES. Fun? Best time of my life! We made our way to Austria to see a German opera and take the Official Sound of Music Tour. Yes, they did play the soundtrack the whole time. And, YES, we did sing to every song. We saw Juliet’s home in Verona, experienced the great cities of Rome, Venice, and Florence. We made it to the island of Capri in the southernmost part of Italy and rented a boat for the day so we could swim through the grottos where the ocean floor glows neon blue. We saw the ruins of Italy’s beautiful past like the city of Pompeii and Palatine Hill. We hiked the 5 villages of Cinque Terre and we ate the most incredible food. I could go on and on (and on and on and on) but I think you get the idea. And I must say if you have not experienced a 4th of July celebration military style then you are missing out. I made friends that I will have for a lifetime and I miss them every day. I’ll never forget my colleagues and the children who made my summer the most incredible one of my life. The people I worked with put their all into their jobs and each of us benefited from this wonderful opportunity. I can’t say enough great things or even being to explain all the things I learned. I encourage anyone interested to look into the program. Camp Adventure usually begins recruitment in the Fall. You can find more information at the Oregon website here: http://oregoncampadventure.weebly.com/