Making the leadership switch from camper to staff can be a challenging yet rewarding experience for our Keystone girls. We loved hearing from Catherine D’Agostino, a long time camper and first-time counselor, about her first year on staff at Keystone. We always get excited to hear your stories about camp. Getting to reminisce on memories and fun from past summers keeps us going during the long winter season. Do you have a story you would like to share? Email it to us at email@example.com!
This summer was my first ever on staff, so many memories were undoubtedly special to me. In six weeks of activities, games, and laugher, two particular memories stand out to me the most. The first is my arrival at camp to quarantine. It was my 17th birthday, and I’d spent most of the day with my family walking around Brevard. I made it to camp in the evening and was immediately surrounded (from a distance) with love and warm welcomes from my friends, my second family. I breathed out a sigh of relief, and all the grief and troubles of the previous year melted away. That night at dinner I was treated to a birthday cake and Keystone’s iconic birthday chant. It was my first birthday at camp in all my nine years of being there. That night my fellow CIT’s in quarantine and I sat next to the Canoe Lake and shared stories of heartbreak, triumph, and everything between our junior years. For the first time in months, I felt listened to, appreciated, and accepted, which is precisely what camp is all about.
My other favorite memory was on the final night of Mini I after Campfire. My first session as a counselor was coming to a close, and honestly, I felt a little disheartened. At times during the session, I felt like I was a ‘bad’ counselor. But as my co-counselor, Cedar Anne, and I watched our kids run around the tennis courts under the stars, their eyes glassy at the thought of leaving their new friends in the morning, I understood just how big of an impact I had on my campers. Whether I was aware of it or not, I helped shape my cabin into a little family. That night Cedar Anne and I sang to them before bed, which ended in a fit of giggles. I realized that being a counselor isn’t about being a perfect person, it’s about sharing your imperfections, laughing at them, growing with them, and setting that example for others. I may have not known exactly what to do in every unprecedented situation, but what mattered was that I kept a positive attitude and improvised!
I am so thankful for all my successes and failures this summer; I learned more about myself in a span of six weeks than at any other time in my life. Keystone means the absolute world to me because after every summer I leave a different person, a better version of myself. No other place in the world has made me feel that way. I am so excited to return next summer and grow more!