For the past four summers, I’ve spent my time working with preschoolers at a summer camp. Between pony rides, pool time, and field trips, each day is stressful, exhausting, but most of all, rewarding. Through working with kids, I’ve learned more about myself than I ever expected, and I wouldn’t exchange those experiences for anything.
Kids teach you to find the fun in everything. There’s something so unique about the way a a five-year-old views the world, and it serves as a reminder that it’s okay to look at the world that way too sometimes. It’s okay to have fun in everyday activities, and that just because you don’t want to do something doesn’t mean that you can’t make the best out of it. This serves as a reminder to sometimes let go of things that are weighing you down and just enjoy what’s happening around you.
Kids also teach you not to take bullshit from anyone. Think about it. Kids will always tell someone when they’re not being treated the way they want to be. It’s okay to do that sometimes. One thing I struggle with is standing up for myself when I feel like I’ve been treated poorly, and my campers constantly remind me to speak up when something’s not right. But regardless of what happens, kids are always willing to forgive; to give their friends a second chance. They have so much love, and are willing to share it with everyone. That’s another important reminder, to still treat others well even if you don’t get along.
Growth is inevitable. We’re constantly growing, changing, and expanding as people, whether we notice it or not. There’s something about seeing a child conquer their fears throughout the summer that reminds me of that. Day one, a camper may not want to get into the pool, but by the end of the week, they’re the last one out. Small victories happen each day, and experiencing these victories with the campers reminds you that you have your own hurdles to conquer, and to not take the little things for granted.
I often find myself getting overwhelmed or stressed at work. If my campers won’t listen or something particularly difficult takes place, it’s hard to remember why I’m there. I’m there to make sure they’re spending their summer having fun. It’s important to keep that in mind, regardless of what’s happened that day. As much as I complain about my job, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. Sure, it’s hectic and exhausting, but at the end of the day, I know I wouldn’t want to spend my summers doing anything else.