Over the past few years, I have overcome many challenges. But the one that
stands out in my mind the most occurred this past summer while I was working as a
Counselor-in-Training at Camp Morasha. I, along with 40 other people my age, was
assigned to bunks of kids ranging from ages eight to fifteen. I can still remember looking
up at the list and seeing that I had been assigned to a bunk of nine and ten year olds. I felt
violated because I felt that I deserved a bunk of older kids, not a bunk full of little children
who had never heard of personal hygiene. After all, I had been a camper in this camp for
seven years, much longer than most of the other C.I.Ts. I almost quit on the first day,
when I saw that the counselor that I had been assigned to work with did not intend on
doing anything besides sleeping.
Although I usually enjoy working with young children, this was not my idea of
how to enjoy a summer vacation. But I decided to perservere, hoping to be switched to
another bunk. Alas, no such switch came, and I was driven to the brink of insanity by
these innocent looking young devils. These kids saw nothing wrong with playing sports
inside the bunk (and breaking three windows while doing so), going weeks without
showering, or with not going to sleep.
I soon realized that however insane these kids seemed to be, they were not as
unreasonable as I had originally thought. They just had to be given suitable reasons or
alternatives. And it was up to me to come up with these reasons and alternatives. I knew
that I could not adhere to conventional wisdom while dealing with these kids, so I tried to
be a little creative. I taught them card games, which they ended up enjoying more than
indoor baseball and hockey. The showering problem was solved when I promised anyone
who showered an extended bedtime. Never before had I seen ten year olds stand in line
for over an hour in order to take a shower. A few of them even came to the realization
that it is nice to be clean and smell nice too, and they began to wear deodorant. But they
still saw nothing wrong with going to sleep well past midnight. I was beginning to lose
hope when I oveheard one camper saying that he wanted to be taller. Since all of the kids
loved basketball, I assumed that all of them wanted to be taller. So that evening, I asked
them when they thought they grew. The most common answer was “while eating”, which
didn’t surprise me. When I told them that one grows while sleeping, they got ready for
bed in a span of 30 seconds, and from that point on, no one objected to going to sleep at
9:00.
Iwas glad when the summer was over, and it was not because I got my paycheck
(which left a lot to be desired). It was because I was able to take a challenge, a challenge
that had driven some of my friends to quitting, and overcome it. I am sure that I will face
many more challenges at Cornell University, and I look forward to overcoming them
there.
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