What does R.I.P.P.L.E. stand for? Respect, Inspire, Play, Positive Thinking, Leadership, and Engage. These are the five main pillars that not only summer camps everywhere should thrive to teach, but I believe schools as well. When I arrived at my summer camp, I was prepared to sit through 7-8 hours of training before the campers arrived the next day. I was about to start my training after all these years as a camper, to be a camp counselor, and although it was only a week, one day seemed like nothing to prepare me for what was to come. Early in our training we were asked to watch a video called "Everyday Leadership", it was a Ted x Talks by Drew Dudley. In this video I learned something so important that it literally changed my entire life without me even noticing at the time.
Drew Dudley said, "I've come to realize that we have made leadership into something bigger than us. We've made it into something beyond us. We've made it about changing the world. And we've taken this title of leader, and we treat it as if it's something that one day we're going to deserve, but to give it to ourselves right now means a level of arrogance or cockiness that we're not comfortable with. And I worry sometimes that we spend so much time celebrating amazing things that hardly anybody can do that we've convinced ourselves that those are the only things worth celebrating, and we start to devalue the things that we can do every day, and we start to take moments where we truly are a leader and we don't let ourselves take credit for it, and we don't let ourselves feel good about it."
One of the biggest lessons I learned all week was that being a camp counselor isn't just a job. I had chosen to spend my spring break doing something that I had been looking forward to since my first summer at camp 10 years ago. I was no longer looking up to my counselor for advice or asking my counselor what time we had to go to first period. It felt like an out of body experience having campers look to me as a role model and I learned that being a true leader means not being scared to call myself a role model. It doesn't make me cocky or arrogant to say that I am important in someone else's life.
It was hard at first to make that transition because my biggest fear of all was that I would let my past counselors and friends down. I was nervous that I would mess up but not that I couldn't handle it. Opening day was nerve racking, meeting parents was scary, but most of all meeting the campers I would be spending the next week with was terrifying.
In 45 minutes I went from a camp counselor to a mom, sister, best friend, therapist, doctor, teacher, and finally a role model. I watched my campers listen to every last word that came out of my mouth. For the first time, I was the counselor and It was my opportunity to really make a difference in these kids lives. Throughout the week I felt like I had a huge boost of confidence as the girls in my cabin began to adjust to their surroundings. Although this was not my first time at camp, together we were all a little new. I was a first time counselor, they were first time campers, and we used this experience to grow together as a cabin.
Although I learned a lot about being a leader last week, I also learned about sitting back and letting others lead too. Being a camp counselor is something I have always wanted to do, and now it it something I never want to stop doing. I had a close friend and role model of mine make a huge decision last week, to change her life forever. She decided not only was summer camp in her blood but it was something she couldn't imagine not doing forever. The most important thing I have learned in this life is that "If you love your job you will never work a day in your life."
Below is the video that changed my life, and I bet it can change yours too!