Life with a smile: To children, camp counselors are superheroes

Published 6:28 am Saturday, July 28, 2018


Contributing writer

What do you do when a team of superheroes visits your house? You feed them tacos and invite them to sing karaoke, obviously.

Email newsletter signup

In our case, the superheroes in question were a dozen members of Uplift Performing Arts, the drama troop from Northern Ireland that are facilitating two weeks of high-intensity drama camp at West T. Hill Community Theatre this summer.

These amazing young people spent their day coaching approximately 70 aspiring thespians and then spent their evening playing corn hole and ladderball with my hooligans, who were absolutely beside themselves with glee at having such esteemed guests in their home. These were counselors, after all. Camp counselors appear to rank second only to Jesus himself in the eyes of my children.

And in thinking about that reality, I’m struck by how fortunate my children are to be surrounded this summer by caring young adults.

My kids have been ping-ponging through a variety of camps this summer, all with different themes. But whether they were hiking, making art or learning new Bible verses, my children consistently listed their counselors as the highlight of the week. They would come home each day, chattering about how this counselor braided one daughter’s hair while another threw my son into the pool six times (he was delighted).

At a weeklong vacation Bible school, a cadre of alarmingly energetic young folks lined the driveway each morning, waving, chanting and singing songs to welcome their young charges to camp. Something about the sight brought an inexplicable lump to my throat each morning – it was just so lovely.

Over the course of the summer, many pictures were drawn, friendship bracelets made and hugs given to an assortment of beloved counselors and all were well-deserved. Of course, loving your counselors that much can also be a bit overwhelming when they visit your home.

My kids were so excited about their impending guests that they completely lost their marbles about 90 minutes before the anticipated arrival. It was horrifying and sort of spectacular to behold, like a car crash happening in slow motion.

My son got frustrated with a lawn game we’d borrowed from a friend and broke off a piece. My older daughter suddenly realized she might not have time to complete the gifts she was making for the visitors and freaked out. And my youngest child somehow managed to clunk her head on the dining room table because clearly the universe dictated that all three of them needed to be hysterical at the same moment.

Happily, they rallied and were cheerful and tear-free by the time the counselors arrived. Then followed a delightful three hours of chalk drawing, guacamole eating and multi-part harmony on a range of Disney tunes; also, chocolate fondue. I whole-heartedly believe in the adage of “go big or go home” and so decided that the occasion called for a giant vat of melted chocolate in which to dip strawberries, marshmallows and graham crackers.

At the end of the evening, we waved goodbye to our visitors and I tucked three sticky, sleepy, and deeply happy children into bed.

Positive role models are important for kids. I love that my children are spending time with young adults who are passionate, kind and committed. I also enjoy seeing my children form these bonds close to home. It’s fine to admire athletes and superheroes and famous people “out there” in the world, but it’s also important to see that heroes don’t just live in Hollywood or play for the Red Sox or fight super villains. They also apply sunscreen, play basketball and share the last bites of their chocolate-covered marshmallows.

Those everyday heroes are just as important and I’m thrilled that my children have encountered so many of them this summer.