Hey everyone! My name is Zac but i’m better known at camp as Seagull, a name which I acquired my first year at camp all the way back in 2010. For those who don’t know me and would like to find out why I am called Seagull you will have just have to ask me on opening day! I was born in a small town called Albany on the south coast of Western Australia and moved up to the capital city of Perth when I was two and have lived here ever since. That is when I am not living at my favorite place on earth! I have been incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work at Camp Carolina for three summers and will be returning for my fourth summer in 2014!
I can remember the first time that I arrived at camp so vividly. I actually just blanked out for a few minutes then, I am currently sitting in a little cafe about a 10 minute walk from my house. Over looking a park where a group of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos (a native bird of Australia) are playing in the puddles and enjoying this beautiful Fall (or autumn as we call it here) day. I was imagining that feeling of driving down Lambs Creek Road and getting that first glimpse of the paradise where I will be spending my summer surrounded by smiles and laughter. It was the 24th of May 2010 at around 2am when it first hit me, I was there, I had made it. After four flights totaling 23 hours, 15 hours in airports and a two hour drive, one crazy adventure was over and another was just beginning. Cast your minds forward to 7:45 the next morning. GONG! GONG! GONG! “All up, everybody up, what a day, what a day, what a day! What had I got myself in for I thought to myself as I crawled out of bed. It was raining and was pretty cold, isn’t it supposed to be a ‘summer’ camp! I walked through the doors of the dining hall into a hive of activity, There were kids everywhere and for a moment I wasn’t sure what was going on, was I late? Had I slept for 3 weeks? Nah it was just one of CCB’s famous father and son weekends. I sat down on a table next to a few dads and their sons and started up a conversation, I was surprised how easy the conversation flowed and how excited they all were to be talking to me and asking questions about me and where I came from. It really helped to settle the nerves.
Camp Carolina has become such an amazing part of my life and has helped to shape the person I am today. The bonds you share with your fellow counselors is amazing and I have made life long friendships that continue to grow stronger and stronger. You may not see people that regularly but when you do it feels like no time has passed at all. I have had to opportunity to meet a few counselors from other years to mine and the amazing thing is even though you may have never met you become instant friends because you have all gone through the same journey and had the same experiences as them. It really is a special place, the simple fact that majority of counselors each year are new but the feeling of camp staying the same is a testament to the hard work, maturity, and enthusiasm that all the staff put in on a daily basis. I also believe very strongly there is something magical in that valley we call home. It has the power to bring out the best in everybody and makes everyone strive to do their best.
Even though the friends you make working at camp are great the real reason I come back is the reason we are all there, the campers. Knowing that you are helping to shape these young minds is a very special thing and something not to be taken lightly. ‘In loco parentis’ is a Latin term that means ‘in the place of the parent’ and is something that sticks with me when I am at camp. At the end of the day that is what happens, parents arrive on opening day and leave their kids in my care. It is such a huge responsibility but something that I love, I always tell people that it is the closest thing you can do to experience what it is like to be a parent without having kids of your own. Are they happy? Are they safe? Did they eat enough lunch to get them through to dinner? All of these things run through your head constantly and there is six of them to think about! That sort of thing just blends in though and becomes part of your daily life so it’s easy to get used to.
The thing that I find myself constantly doing is looking at myself, am I doing enough? Am I being to right kind of role model for these guys? If I was a camper would I want me as a counselor? I try and put myself in their shoes as much as possible, sitting at the dinner table as a seven year old looking up at my counselor. What do I want him to be? Does he take care of me? Do I feel safe? I aim to provide a comfortable, nurturing environment where they feel safe to be themselves and get the most out of their time at camp. All I ask of them is to give it a go and have fun while they are doing it.
Well, that is it for me folks, I hope you have enjoyed my perspective on what it is like to be a counselor at CCB. I hope to see you all in the not too distant future, come on over on opening day and say g’day i’d be more than happy to chat.
Zac “Seagull” Wilson