From camper to counselor: four SCATS alumni share their new view

By Erika Solberg

In 2010, “Toy Story 3” was released, Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” was playing nonstop on the radio, Rick Riordan’s “The Red Pyramid” was the number-one kids’ bestseller, and “Pretty Little Liars” premiered on TV. Also in June 2010, four of this year’s first-time SCATS counselors were campers themselves. Last Friday, I sat down with Maddie Hamblin (SCATS 2010-11), Carlos Sierra (SCATS 2010-12), Priscilla Suh (SCATS 2010), and Molly Rush (SCATS 2010) to see what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what advice they have for this year’s SCATS campers.

What is it like returning to SCATS as a counselor?

Maddie: I was a non-residential camper, so it’s been really interesting to see what the SCATS kids do outside of class. Also, I took acting with Julie Boggess, and the first day of camp she was like, “There’s no way you’re old enough to be a counselor,” and I said I couldn’t believe it either.

Priscilla: Being a counselor makes me want to be a camper again! It’s really interesting to see the other side — how everyone interacts and how much fun they’re having with all the things that we experienced at camp.

Carlos: It’s funny looking at the kids having so much energy like we did, and now we’re here as counselors. It’s been more responsibility being a counselor than it was to be a camper, but I still have fun.

Molly: When the campers were walking in on the first day, I couldn’t believe how small they were. But I definitely think that as gifted students, a lot of them are a lot more mature than you might think they are for their age.

Counselor Priscilla Suh meets with her campers after their classes Tuesday, June 13. Counselors lead a meeting with their group every day after classes to recap the day and discuss the activities for the coming evening. (Photo by Brook Joyner)
Counselor Priscilla Suh meets with her campers after their classes Tuesday, June 13. Counselors lead a meeting with their group every day after classes to recap the day and discuss the activities for the coming evening. (Photo by Brook Joyner)

What’s the same and what’s different from when you were here?

Maddie: It’s really nice to see that a lot of the classes I took like acting, singing, and art are still being offered. It’s nice to see the students enjoy a class and be able to say, “I took that class when I went to SCATS, and I had a ton of fun with it.”

Molly: It’s definitely a little easier on these campers because they’re only in three buildings. I remember having to walk from the bottom of the hill from Tate Page all the way up to the Astronomy building in ten minutes!

What’s something that stands out from when you were a camper?

Counselor Maddie Hamblin carries the Israeli flag during the opening ceremonies of the SCATS Olympics Saturday, June 17. Maddie's group, which chose to represent Israel, went on to win first place in the competition. (Photo by Brook Joyner)
Counselor Maddie Hamblin carries the Israeli flag during the opening ceremonies of the SCATS Olympics Saturday, June 17. Maddie’s group, which chose to represent Israel, went on to win first place in the competition. (Photo by Brook Joyner)

Carlos: I was actually in the same hall with (current SCATS counselors) Ben Guthrie, Jacob Couch, and Peyton Cuzzart my first year. That’s really cool because I remember Jacob. I told him, “Oh, you were the funny guy who had the beard!”

Priscilla: I remember the dance was the big thing at the end — having Scamper (SCATS camper) crushes and getting to dance with the boy you liked.

Carlos: I felt young my first year. That’s when I was kind of homesick — and then I didn’t want to leave. I loved it.

Maddie: I came back as a counselor because SCATS and VAMPY honestly changed my life in such a big way. They taught me how to be more confident in myself, and being around kids who were like me made me realize how unique of a place SCATS and VAMPY can be for kids, especially those who are unsure of themselves growing up. This is such a prime time for children to figure out who they are.

What advice are you giving your campers going into the second week?

Priscilla: Get some sleep! And sign up for things that you might not think you’re interested in or you might think are out of your comfort zone. Sign up for the talent show even if you might be afraid of doing something in front of all these kids. I wasn’t in the talent show when I was in SCATS — I was shy, but now I think I’d be fine with doing it. I’m trying to convince my girls to do it: “It’d be great! Don’t worry — don’t be nervous!”

Molly: My advice is to do what you want to do — there’s only one week left, and you want to make the most of it. You can come away with a lot of amazing memories from this camp.

Counselor Carlos Sierra (right) waves an American flag in the air with fellow counselors as team USA competes in tug-of-war Saturday, June 17. Each team consisted of one male and one female counselor group and chose a country to represent. (Photo by Brook Joyner)
Counselor Carlos Sierra (right) waves an American flag in the air with fellow counselors as team USA competes in tug-of-war Saturday, June 17. Each team consisted of one male and one female counselor group and chose a country to represent. (Photo by Brook Joyner)
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