In the first few days of VAMPY 2016, one of my favorite parts has been getting to know my campers better. I find that the best time to learn about my campers’ personalities is at night time during room checks. Room checks, which are performed by each counselor within his or her own group, serve the purpose of verifying that every camper is in their room for the night. However, I believe room checks are much more than that, serving as critical bonding time between the counselor and camper.
When I go to each room I spend several minutes talking to each set of roommates about their day. This time is important because if the campers are experiencing any problems this is the time when they are most likely to talk to me about it. To start conversation I ask each camper to participate in an activity called Rose, Thorn, and Gratitude; a rose is a high point in their day, a thorn is something negative that happened, and gratitude is someone or something for which they are thankful. I like this activity because it encourages the campers to tell me about anything bad that happened, but still has a generally positive tone. My group this year is especially positive, which I absolutely love! Many of them have talked about how fun their class is as a positive, and have listed multiple positives about their day rather than just one.
Still more encouraging is the fact that many of the girls have been unable to come up with a negative part of their day. What strikes me as the best thing about my girls as a whole is how truly grateful they are for these positive experiences. They have expressed gratitude for everyone from other campers who have been kind to them, to their teachers for teaching them, to their parents for sending them to this amazing camp. I just think it’s amazing that they recognize the incredible opportunity that they have to come here, and are actively thankful for the people making it possible for them.
Once conversation has gotten started campers talk more freely about everything. I get to learn about their interests, schools, families, and pets, but also who they’re friends with at camp and what they’re doing in their classes. The hardest part of room checks for me is saying goodnight and moving on to the next room because each and every camper is so interesting and enjoyable to talk to.