Inside Camp PALS: A Parent's Perspective

As a parent of one of the original campers of PALS 2004, I remember the uneasy feeling of leaving my son in the hands of a first-time Camp run by teens. Although I knew these teens to be responsible young adults, it was still a difficult decision. After the first year, I knew it was an amazing opportunity for Jason and I never thought twice about it. This year I had the opportunity to see Camp PALS from a different perspective. I was asked to be a resident advisor in one of the additional houses set up due to the expanding enrollment.

In a camp that runs like clockwork, I was basically another set of hands available if needed (which was really not that often). The allocation of job assignments is so well organized that I wish I could implement such a technique with my family in our home (to view it in action is reminiscent of the mice cleaning up in “Cinderella”). The excitement and anticipation of the counselors waiting for the arrival of their campers can only be compared to the feeling we get each year as we turn into Cabrini campus with our own campers. I learned so much over the week that I thought I should share some of it with you.

It was a privilege to get to know some of the counselors better, and to see them share their many talents with the campers as they taught various activities throughout the week. I have always admired the counselors who give so freely of their time with such a strong sense of dedication and responsibility, but if at all possible I gained a stronger respect for them as I viewed the sincerity of their actions. In one instance at the beach a camper only wanted to get his feet wet, so I offered to stay with him so his counselor could go further out in the waves and help with other campers. The counselor was reluctant to leave his camper with me because he didn’t want the camper to miss out on all the fun in the waves. The counselor to camper connection is a bond that’s tough to break.

Spending time with the campers was always a treat. They have so many hidden talents that I only wish they lived more locally. Sarah’s recollection of historical events would have made her an amazing tutor for Jason in his World History class last year, and Sam’s meticulous cleaning and gardening skills are invaluable. And I will always remember Dan’s concern that I enjoy the semi-formal as he good-heartedly kept finding me new dance partners.

I have always praised Camp PALS as an amazing experience for both campers and counselors. Having had the opportunity to step inside for a week, I realize it’s a remarkable program from the inside out and I’ll always treasure the memories of being a part of it.

With sincere appreciation for a wonderful week,

Robyn

Robyn serving dessert on Kate's birthday