On opening day, I met 15 teenagers who were excited to be the Wolfe Pack but didn’t quite know what they were in for. There were challenges at first. Waking up early, being on time, running their own schedule, communicating with younger campers, public speaking, facilitating activities, etc. did not come easy for all. Despite these challenges, the group said they preferred their new role at camp rather than just being campers. Why you may ask? I think it boils down to 3 things: we treated and expected them to be adults & role models, more responsibility means more freedom, and they felt that their actions were making a difference.
With time, the challenges the group faced did not become smaller but they developed strategies to overcome them and the confidence to do so. Asking advice from senior counselors on how to connect with younger campers, time-checks, and breaking up tasks into smaller groups became a part of their every-day problem solving repertoire. Soon, campers and counselors alike grew to love their presence. The amount of comments I heard daily about how helpful the Wolfe Pack was from counselors was astounding. Each time a camper asked “Why can’t my Wolfe come to activities with me?” warmed my heart. The standing ovations the Wolfe Pack received in the dining hall for their help serving did not quiet quickly. The group felt it too… They were leaders. They could actively see the impact they were having on the community. On top of all of this, they were having a whole lot of fun.
The session rounded down with our 3-day backpacking trip to Grayson Highlands with wild horses, stunning vistas, waterfalls and writing our Moral Compasses. Back at camp, several Wolfe Pack members spoke in front of the entire camp at Closing Campfire about their experience. At the last Wolfe Pack evening circle, each member read their moral compasses aloud and shared what was their favorite part of the program. Not a single person said the activities, or the off-time, or anything that was self-serving. Most mentioned that being a role-model to younger campers was their favorite part.
On closing day, I said goodbye to 15 young adults who had proven they were capable leaders. Congratulations to all members of the founding year of the Wolfe Pack. We cannot wait to see the places you will go and hope to see you next year at camp!