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Monthly Archives: June 2018

From Camper to Staff – Transitions at Summer Camp

My name is Jackson Pollock and I am the Saxon Group Leader this summer. I am from Cleveland, Ohio and will be a Junior at the University of Miami, Florida.

This is my 13th summer at the Realm and 4th working as a counselor. For the past 3 summers, I was working in the Junior Camp division at Camp, working with kids between 6 and 10 years old. When I got assigned to this division my first year as a counselor I was a little nervous at the large task at hand. I always thought I would be a counselor for an older group of kids, however since my first day as a junior camp counselor I felt I was in the right place. Last summer I was the group leader for the youngest group the TPJs. The TPJs include campers ages 6-9. As the group leader, I had to be very vigilant about what my campers were doing 24/7. Whether it was helping them make their beds, helping them fold their clothes, watching what they eat during meals, putting on sunscreen, drinking water or ensuring they were wearing clean clothes. This responsibility was a lot for a 19-year-old, but I was only able to do it successfully with my amazing counselors helping me on the TPJ staff.

This year I am the Saxon group leader. Saxons are age 16, just finishing their sophomore year of high school. Saxons are counselors in training, so half of their day consists of training to be a staff member. I spend the afternoon working on the ski boats while my Saxons are working with other groups. Going from the youngest group to the oldest group is a large change and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it. Having junior campers for 3 years led me to forget what it was like to be a senior camper, let alone a Saxon. Although there is less of a vigilant eye on everything my campers do as 16-year-olds, there is still a lot of responsibility. After the first couple days of camp, the transition became clear to me. Once I got to know the campers in the group everything else shifted into place. I relied heavily on my fellow group leaders and Brass members to prepare me for this transition and I’m happy to say it has been a success. Having the Saxons for my final summer in the Realm is special to me. Saxon year is the last year you are a camper, so my Robin Hood experience has come full circle.

Arrival Day at Camp Robin Hood 2018

Arrival. My favorite day of the year. It’s good to be back.

Nothing matches the energy of Day 1. It’s been nine years since I experienced the pure excitement of opening day, and there is simply no substitute.

When the doors of the New York bus open, the cheering on the quad is reminiscent of a sports stadium in overtime. The only comparison I can think of for the giddy reunions – bleary-eyed hugs and trying to say hi to seven people at once – is greeting the guests at my own wedding. No other event comes close to combining the two.

Today began my 12th summer in The Realm. I was a camper for five summers, and a counselor for six, most recently in 2009. I’m returning in a new role – program director. Though most of the faces have changed since my last First Day, the emotions and the enthusiasm was exactly as I remembered it. On this day, it’s hard to imagine a greater concentration of happiness exists anywhere else in the world.

The fields and courts were prepped, the weather was great, and with each individual arrival, the positive vibes intensified. By early afternoon those courts were filled with playing children, learning and re-learning the names of the campers and counselors they’ll spend the next several weeks with.
And finally, to top it all off, an unusually great sunset over one of the best sunset-viewing-locations on Earth.

Alex Rikleen, Program Director