By Zoe Bernbaum, former staff member at GFC and graduating senior at the University of Texas at Austin. Zoe rencelty recieved the Elconan H. Saulson Achievement Award from the Texas Hillel which recognizes a senior for outstanding commitment to Jewish life on campus over a students college career.
There is something special about camp for everyone, and the reasons vary why campers come back every summer to GFC. Staff members have some of the same reasons for coming back each summer, and for this reason GFC staff help create the community we have at camp. The impact that camp has on both campers and staff is incredible; you grow so much faster than someone who stayed at home for the summer. One of the first times that I realized the positive impact of camp was my junior year of high school, when I attended a different camp and I realized that it was because of GFC that I was not shy about meeting new people and creating friendship. During my freshman year at college, I was not ready to leave all of my high school friends but working at camp that summer allowed me to make an easy transition into college. I had more confidence when walking into my first day of classes and meeting new people at social events because of camp.
It was not until recently though, that I realized the true worth of working at summer camp. I am graduating from college this May and I have been on a number of job interviews. It was in the interviews that I realized the impact that working at camp had on me. Many of the experiences I spoke about during my interviews were related to my time as a staff member at GFC. Every employer I interviewed with was impressed by everything that I accomplished while being on staff and the experiences I gained during my summers at camp. Despite the popular belief that camp counselors just lie around in the sun all day and teach basketball or dance, the job is so much more than that. The experience that I got in the four summers taught me more about myself and the way I work than I would have had filing papers at an internship.
At camp, one of the first lessons you learn is how to work with a team, which is great because an employer will ALWAYS ask you a question regarding how well you work with a team. As a counselor, you are placed with one to two other counselors to manage a Kehilah (community); you learn to live and work together in a way you would never experience at an internship. During my third year on staff, I got the opportunity to do the Cornerstone Program, which allows third year bunk counselors to take on a leadership role at camp and participate in an additional training seminar prior to the summer. As a Cornerstone fellow, I took on a mentorship position and helped first year staff members transition into the role as a counselor. My forth summer I was an assistant unit head and got to learn how to manage a group of staff members and campers, some of whom are my friends. It was sometimes difficult separating friendship from the job at hand, but to be twenty-one and in this position gave me the leadership and management skills I have today.
Working at camp was such an amazing way to spend my summers, I got to spend time with friends, learn new activities and learn something new about myself. The experiences you gain as a staff member can transfer to a job after college and help you prepare for the “real” world.
If it wasn’t for camp, I don’t think that I would have been offered the job I will be starting in June. I will be working at Oracle at the Austin, Texas office in the Sales Program. Oracle emphasizes working as a team and I believe that I am prepared for this opportunity because of camp. Additionally, in every job especially at Oracle, I will be working with new people and it is really important to build relationships with your co-workers so that in the end, working with each other is easier. Camp taught me that, whether a friend or acquaintance, getting along with your co-workers will make your job easier and make you more successful. Something so little as learning what makes someone smile or how they deal with stress can have a tremendous impact on the way you work together. I have more confidence starting this position than I would if I had not worked at GFC.
I wish that I could be at camp again this summer, but I know the impact that Greene Family Camp has on both campers and staff, and I wish the best for a great summer!