My three college summers could not be more drastically different. They each carry a unique location, group of people, purpose, and collection of feelings and reactions.
After finishing my freshman year I headed off to the camp I'd grown up loving, only this time as a full-fledged counselor. I felt like a big deal, and was ready (I thought) for my dream job. And in some aspects, it was great. Living in Western Michigan was beautiful, I was able to be outside the entire time, I swam in lakes, tubed behind boats, shot bow and arrow, and participated in a variety of fun activities daily that most people only experience a few times a year.
But it was an incredibly hard summer. I didn't fit in with the other counselors as I would have hoped, often opting for much needed quiet time instead of laughing at goofy jokes and trying to force friendships that felt too manufactured, since we had all only known each other for a few exhausting weeks. The kids in my cabins each week were a lot of work, needing my constant attention for every physical, emotional, and social dilemma. Sometimes this was rewarding; often it was overwhelming and draining. Additionally, there were bugs everywhere, mundane food, cramped showers, sweaty afternoons, and everything camp.
I learned to set realistic expectations. I learned that my life is so much more than my selfish desires and immediate needs. I learned that working with children and youth is not my life calling. I learned that I didn't need to be friends with everybody, but I did need to be kind, sympathetic, and helpful to all around me. I learned that I loved the state of Michigan more than I had realized. I learned to be responsible, for many people beside myself. I learned how to bring Christ to where these kids were in their own personal lives. I learned to be the adult.