If you are reading the Word from Wildwood blog and haven’t attended camp yet, you may be wondering: What are the people at Wildwood like? What is the atmosphere like? Are people as friendly as they seem? To answer your questions, let me tell you my lifeguarding story.
Once upon a summer, I was a new hire at Wildwood—it was my first time as an adult camp counselor! I was very nervous and a little overwhelmed with all the new information coming my way. One evening, our wonderful program coordinator, Cheryl, emailed me about lifeguard training for the counselors. Right away I declined the offer. While I knew I could swim, I didn’t think I could swim nearly as well as the other counselors could. I didn’t want to push myself outside of my comfort zone. And besides, I was a new counselor at camp! Why would I choose to embarrass myself in front of a bunch of strangers?
But Cheryl, keeping with Wildwood’s “Challenge by Choice” philosophy, suggested I come to the waterfront before lifeguard training and test my endurance with a few other counselors. It would be a casual and low-pressure way to test my limits and see what I could really do.
Now remember, I didn’t think that I was all that strong of a swimmer. When the day finally came, I was embarrassed to get into the water and nervous to meet the other staff members. I thought, “Look at me, an adult acting like a shy young camper!” But immediately I was welcomed. Cheryl helped introduce me to the other counselors and we sang a few silly songs together during our swim test.
And then something wonderful happened. All of us, banding together and cheering each other on, began the endurance swim across Hubbard Pond to First Point. I wasn’t sure how long I would last. But Matthew, an amazing staff member, called out to me, “We’re going to finish this together! We got this!” And I went! And kept going!
I was floored by how well I performed. I had never challenged myself before in this way and didn’t know what I was capable of! Before I knew it, Matthew, myself, and all of the other counselors were finished and pulling ourselves back onto the dock. I came out of the water feeling incredibly powerful—and, on top of that, supported. The counselors all finished the endurance swim with cheers and high fives. It was like magic—all of a sudden, I was part of a team.
In the end, I did end up going through with the full lifeguard training. I can proudly say that I am now lifeguard certified (something else I never thought I would be capable of)! I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without the encouragement of Cheryl, the non-judgmental atmosphere of camp, and the rousing support of my fellow counselors.
Wildwood is a place where even the adults can be nervous, make mistakes, and be supported as they try new things. I was challenged and grew at Wildwood! Wouldn’t you like to be, too?
Written By Arianna W., a lifeguard and Day Camp Counselor at Wildwood