Youth Forward Scholarship 2018 – OP Camp

Name: Jordyn Whitson
From: Midland, TX
Grade: High School Senior
School: Trinity School of Midland
Votes: 75

OP Camp

The summer after my sophomore year, I participated in OP Camp, a summer
camp organization for children from broken homes. I acted as a camp
counselor for twelve girls ages eight and nine. I was extremely
scared to be a leader for these children because I was still just a
child myself and did not feel confident enough to lead them.
Nevertheless, I got on the bus with the other two hundred people
going to camp, found a cluster of the girls I would be leading and
sat down beside them. I intended to spend the long bus ride
connecting with my girls instead of talking to my friends or
sleeping, hoping to make a good first impression on them. Trying to
make conversation with fourth graders was probably one of the most
nerve wracking things I’ve ever done. I did not know what to talk
about, but I desperately wanted them to like me. I tried to talk to
them about their families, their friends at school, their
extracurriculars, pets, hobbies, but nothing seemed sufficient. I
wracked my brain looking for conversation starters, but still could
not come up with anything. Then I decided to just play some games
with them. We played rock, paper, scissors; I spy; 20 questions; etc.
All the girls were smiling and laughing and having a good time; I
felt so accomplished. By the time the bus ride was over, the girls
liked me and seemed very excited to get to hang out with me over the
next week. Once I got over the fear of talking to the girls, I really
looked forward to spending time with them and helping them work
through their hard times at home. What started as such a daunting
task turned into one of the greatest experiences I have ever had.
Because my girls and I connected on the bus, encouraging them to open
up to me when we had heavy discussions was significantly easier. I
loved being able to be a leader, friend, and hopefully a positive
influence in the lives of those twelve girls. Spending a week at Op
Camp greatly influenced my desire to be a teacher and was a great
leadership experience that taught me so much. I learned that each kid
is different and works through their problems in different ways. I
learned to practice patience, be caring and understanding, and how to
manage a large group of children all at once. Op Camp really taught
me how to be a leader, and I could not be more thankful for that

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