“I think when you come to Aloha as a counselor like me—someone who never went to camp there and didn’t know anything about it before I came—my socioeconomic difference really shaped my experience. I remember telling my campers that I had been working two jobs, seven days a week for the past six months so that I could afford to come to camp. Then a camper asked me why my parents couldn’t just pay for my rent and questions like that, which were really difficult conversations. The socioeconomic disparity between campers on campership versus those who had been going there a long time…it’s really hard for me to even imagine that someone could afford to send their kids to camp every year here. I would have never been able to go to camp there, and that made me sort of sad. I know that the Foundation does give out camperships, but for the most part, it seems it’s wealthy families and as long as it’s going stay that way, there’s not going to be a change in the culture.
One of the first experiences I had when I thought maybe it was a bad idea I had come to camp was during counselor orientation at the beginning of the summer when it was explained that we needed to preserve the campers’ world, a “child’s world.” That was really surprising to me because for a camp that prided itself on its community and finding yourself and being a good person, it seemed alarming to me that they would ask counselors to sidestep their own personal beliefs and things happening in the world to limit all of the troubles of the outside world. I can understand that to an extent, but there were a lot of times that things were happening that were relevant to both worlds and navigating those conversations with campers, while being mindful that the camp doesn’t want you to talk about real things like that, was really unsettling. I felt like I got dropped into the deep end of something I wasn’t equipped to handle.”
—Aloha, Counselor, 2019
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