If You Can’t Find a Turtle, Be the Turtle

I spent the ten best summers of my life at CYO Camp Christopher in Bath, Ohio. I was a counselor, a bus driver and the Day Camp Director. Today I was reminded of a story from my days as a camp director.

We had themes for each week of the summer, and we would program activities around each theme. For Western Week we would always have a “gold rush,” during which we would paint small rocks gold and hide them around the camp for campers to find.

During Music Week we would have the Day Camp Jug Band, where all of us counselors would bring some kind of instrument from home, whether we could play or not, and put on a concert for the campers.

I could give 1,000 more examples, but you get the point.

So, during Animal Week each year each group of campers was supposed to catch a turtle sometime during the week. On Friday, the groups would paint their turtles and we would have the Great Camp Christopher Turtle Race Championships. (Don’t worry…we used water soluble paint and released the turtles afterwards).

One year, counselor Mike’s group couldn’t find a turtle. (Mike is in the picture below, furthest left in the second row, standing in front of a much younger me).

So, after searching and searching and searching without success all week for a turtle, Mike came up with a great solution: HE would be the turtle.

Mike let his campers paint his back, and Mike entered the ring to race the real turtles. And today, 15 years later, a camper remembered it fondly enough to remind me of it on Facebook.

What is Mike doing today? Of course, he’s a teacher.

My friends, camp is for the campers, and school is for the students. If you are lucky enough to have a job as a camp counselor or a teacher or anything else that gets to work with kids, make sure you do everything in your power to give them awesome memories 15 years later.

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