Riley Collins '21

In summer 2019, Riley Collins ’21 served as a counselor at Camp Seafarer, a North Carolina-based YMCA summer program offering two-week overnight experiences for girls at which she had previously been a camper. Activities on sea and land including powerboating, sailing, fishing, archery, creative arts, and horseback riding. Here, Collins reflects on her summer experiences. 

My opportunity to be a camp counselor this summer has been nothing short of amazing. For the past eight years Camp Seafarer has impacted my life greatly, helping to develop my character, motivation, and the daily life skills that I’ve learned while being away from home. However, all of this would not have been learned without the help from my counselors. 

This summer I took an opportunity that I've been dreaming of ever since my first year at camp. As a camper, I believed counselor life was glorious because you could do anything your heart desired while at camp, and I can now say that this idea is false. Although it can be very difficult sometimes, everything that I've done as a counselor has truly been to benefit the camp experience for my campers and any other girls around me. Whether it’s taking a homesick girl on a walk early in the morning or throwing the girls a “midnight party” to add excitement to a rainy day, we as counselors would do anything for these girls. 

This summer, I got to spend eight weeks at my second home with four sets of 14 sweet, and adorable little girls. I’ve quickly fallen in love with each set, and made everlasting memories with them, but also have taught them what I’ve learned from my previous counselors. Often as counselors we are told to “bring it from our toes” as parents expect and are excited to see character development created by the positivity and energy that we must bring into the cabin every day. While all this does not sound very difficult, it has been as I’ve encountered challenges that require me to dig deep to reach my energy. But as I realize truly why I am here, I understand that I want to give the love and support to as many girls as I can in order to help them achieve their goals and show off their “true selves,” exercising the true meaning of being a leader.  

When the two weeks are up, at the end of the session, I get the chance to see the impact I've made on my campers by saying goodbye and looking into their eyes and seeing the love and admiration these girls have for me. Being a camp counselor is more than just a job for me, it instead is something I could never fully put into words, but experiencing the longest hugs and these expressions from the campers says it all.