My Experience as a Foothill Horizons Camp Counselor

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My Experience as a Foothill Horizons Camp Counselor

This school year I took the opportunity to be a camp counselor at Foothill Horizons and let me tell you, what a week it was. Foothill Horizons is an educational science camp where kids can go to learn about nature, the Me-Wuk Native Americans, making new friends, and team-working skills. During my experience, I learned all of the above, and it was all thanks to the staff, the counselors I met along the way, and the wonderful 6th graders that I had the blessing to meet. It was nostalgia for some of the counselors that went when they were in 6th grade. Not for me though. I personally went to a different camp at a different school.  So, it was a new experience that I was willing to jump head first into. Yeah, sure, how hard can taking care of a bunch of kids on your own be? 

Personally, I think Foothill Horizons has a wonderful way of incorporating nature into their camp with fun games and learning exercises for all of the kids. Even I was having fun. I had the same reactions to all the 6th graders when we went to Moaning Caverns for the first time. For those who don’t know, Moaning Caverns is an underground cave that you can go to in Vallecito, 45 minutes away from the camp in Sonora. The children were thrilled and just in awe of the details of the rocks. Our naturalist who took us even turned off all the lights and we got to experience true darkness. One of the kids I was with even said one rock looked like a brain. He was a smart little fella. It was truly an experience that actually got all of us to learn about something and experience new things. The camp even has its own area dedicated to the Me-Wuk people who lived there during the 1800’s. They had houses that they would live in and a place of worship called a Hangi. 

When you’re a counselor, you have to be with your kids 24/7. I mean literally. All. The. Time.  Making sure they’re safe, cleaned, fed, and ready for bed. I felt like a single mother with 18 daughters. Yes, I wasn’t alone in taking care of them. But man, sometimes it was hard. We had to make sure that each kid got a chance to use the restroom before heading out for a hike. Sometimes they didn’t need to go, but you should really make them. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not squatting in the middle of the woods and waiting for them to go do their business. Absolutely not.  In the end, it was all worth it. “Those are my boys, I don’t care what anyone else says,” said Douglas Lincoln, one of the counselors I got a chance to meet during our stay. So, we truly felt a sort of connection with them. After all, we stayed with them and practically lived together. I even read to them before bed, and made sure they fell asleep. Of course, I heard giggling, but what are you gonna do? They’re 6th graders and they can’t take everything seriously. 

During breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we all sat in one room with everyone in it. Each table had at least one counselor to make sure that everybody got the required item. It was usually fruits or vegetables that they had to serve themselves. I made conversation with the kids at my table and found to really enjoy sitting with them. Of course I had one kid who was giving me a hard time. But he was pretty funny sometimes so I let it slide. I threatened him with detention so he stopped. I personally never gave any out because I was lucky with the group of girls I got. No, seriously. They were the cutest and sweetest little 6th graders I ever met. Some of them were cheerleaders and they taught everyone in our dorm some of their chants. Every time we left they wanted to say a chant. And of course I was all for it. The way they were so proud of it brought a smile to my face.

The hikes were one of my favorite parts because I got to spend quality time with my kids in nature. They all had a blast, especially on the night walk. Man, my favorite was when we went to the sky tower. Looking at the stars was just the most calming and peaceful setting. We had to whisper, but some of those boys were just silently screaming. During that hike, you have to warn the person behind you if there was a rock or anything in the way to avoid falling. The boys just said, “A tree, watch out!” when it was off to the side away from all of us. Oh yeah, very helpful, thank you. I’ll make sure not to hit the tree that’s 6 feet away from me to my left.  And one of those boys, every time he saw me, he turned around and said “Mr. Beast! Ice Spice! The boy’s a liarrrr!” Please don’t ask me why because I really don’t know. All of those kids were characters, that’s for sure.

Now let me talk about the hardest part about the trip. Saying goodbye. I truly didn’t want to leave my girls. It was so much harder when we were putting our luggage into our buses. 3 of the girls that were in my dorm ran out of the bus to hug me one last time. They started crying in my arms. And yes, before anyone says anything, I cried. They even all collectively gave me a card and each signed it saying a different message. I was bawling my eyes out. Anyways, I was delighted to see that I could make a difference in their lives. Well, I mean, I better have. Because on all the hikes, I carried all of their water bottles in my backpack like a soccer mom. So I should be given a little credit.

I know I really have a lot to say about being a counselor, but it was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. From taking care of the kids to meeting new friends that were also counselors, I am so glad that I got this opportunity and I’m glad I got a letter of recommendation from them to use in the future with colleges and different jobs. So, with that being said, if you’re not doing it, DO IT!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? You will not regret it, trust me.

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  • D

    douglas lincolnNov 1, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    miss my kids

  • C

    CFNov 1, 2023 at 7:03 pm

    Great article, It was great to know we all made a difference in these kids lives!