Ben is a lifelong Friends Camper. He was a camp counselor in 2018 and 2019, as well as running the most successful program in our Virtual Everybody Camp 2020: Dungeons and Dragons! For the 2021 summer, Ben will be a Program Director at camp supporting staff in designing exceptional programs that are pandemic-safe.
I think about “rockstar day” when The Bumbling Woohas were coming to camp, and none of the kids thought they were real, but when they showed up all the campers were in disbelief. I got to play with them on stage too. It was amazing.
How did you hear about Friends Camp?
My best friend from preschool went for a summer before me and then he told me about it. I think I started going when I was about 10 and I was a camper until I was as old as I could be.
When did you know you wanted to be a counselor?
I think as soon as I realized that was something I could do. When I was camper, being a counselor seemed like the coolest thing ever, so cool it seemed unattainable. Then when I was in my last summer as a camper, or maybe a little before, I started getting asked if I would want to come back as a counselor and that was when I realized I could do that. It was something I always would have wanted to do, I just needed it to be made clear that it was an option for me.
What is your favorite part of working at camp?
My favorite part is probably coming up with programs. I worked at another camp before Friends Camp, and I think the biggest difference in those experiences is how much agency counselors have at Friends Camp. Like you get to completely decide what activities to do, and they can be as weird as you want, but as long as kids want to do them then it will happen. And kids usually want to do weird activities! I just really like coming up with wacky ideas.
Do you have any programs that you ran that were your favorites?
I did one called “Filth.” Basically we got just really dirty. We did activities in mud and dirt and then would get clean after. I remember we played “marco-filtho,” like marco-polo, where we threw lake mud at one another. This was with the older kids, too, and they loved it! There was one day with a serendipitous rainfall, and while all the other counselors were scrambling to get indoor spaces for their programs, we were happy to be outside! We went puddle jumping, and puddle racing, everyone got so dirty, it was amazing.
I had another one called “Duck Duck Tape” where we just made things out of duck tape. It wasn’t very structured, I mostly let the campers just make what they wanted, but I had an idea, for when campers didn’t want to work on their own projects, that we could all work together to make a big duck-shaped boat. And we did end up making it, and we took it down to the lake and it floated and everything! It could hold one person at a time. I had a plan for how to build the boat but I just left it up to the campers. I thought it might be catastrophic but it worked! It was basically just a bunch of balloons covered in duck tape.
I have one more. I did a fairy program that I think about a lot, I don’t remember what we called it. We made costumes, cork fairies, and it was always pleasant, we just did arts and crafts. When we finished our costumes we went into the Back 40 to find fairies, but no one had gone in there yet that summer and it had just rained, so we got covered in mud and mosquitos and we ended up running out of the woods. But we said that the mosquitos were evil pixies so it worked out!
When you think about camp, are there particular days or moments that come to mind?
A lot of “special days” have been really fun for me. I dressed up as Grimbo the goblin for a special day a few years ago and talked like him all day. Kids came to his elective and were still thinking about him and asking about him after special day was over. I think there’s one special day every year that sticks out to me. Like I think about “rockstar day” when The Bumbling Woohas were coming to camp, and none of the kids thought they were real, but when they showed up all the campers were in disbelief. I got to play with them on stage too. It was amazing.
I also remember a day when there was a meteor shower and all of camp slept outside which was really special. It was cool to have everyone outside and looking at the stars.
What have you learned from working at camp and how do you feel it applies in other aspects of your life?
Working at Friends Camp has been enriching many aspects of my life. It is a good opportunity for the first time really being responsible for yourself and others. I used to not think of myself as a responsible person and that made me not act responsible. Then during Jones when I was in charge of a bunch of small people, I realized I could be responsible, that I was comfortable being responsible. Also, before working at camp, I was not very comfortable making presentations in front of a lot of people, but when you regularly have to make announcements in front of 100 people you get comfortable. It sort of throws you into the deep end but more often than not people learn to swim. These were things that seemed undoable but they really aren’t, and I take that with me into other things.
Anything to add?
Working at camp is a really great job! It is really worth doing for a lot of reasons.