Keystone girls often find themselves trying something new at camp. This month you can read a hilarious story from a long-time camper and current staff member, Betsy Goodrum. Her tale of resilience put smiles on our faces. Hearing stories from our campers and community members always brighten our week. Do you have a memory you would like to share? Please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Picture me cartwheeling onto the stage in a flamingo costume saying, “Good evening, I’m Betsy Goodrum from Austin, Texas, and I’m an Olympic cart wheeler.” The irony is that I am a horrible cart wheeler. Though my performance was met with hysterical laughter from the campers in the audience, it quickly became one of my most treasured moments from this past summer.
This summer was my first year on staff at Keystone, but my seventh year overall. Each summer as a camper, I learned a lot from my counselors, and as a CIT, I looked forward to the opportunity to teach my campers the same lessons. My counselors were always there for me, whether helping me pass level 4 in tennis (thanks Madison!) or guiding me through friendship struggles. They always had a way of making me feel welcome when I felt my least comfortable, and I have always appreciated their kindness and care. This summer, I wanted to create the same environment for my campers. As a CIT, I had to guide my campers through their activities, whether or not I was any good at it. When it came time for gymnastics, I remembered with embarrassment how bad I had been at the activity when I was a camper, and I realized many of my campers might be feeling the same way. I knew I had to do something to make them all comfortable with trying something new.
As we began our first gymnastics activity of the summer, I said to my campers in See-Off, “Do y’all want to see my cartwheel? I’m really good!” They of course got all excited as 9-year-olds do, and I attempted my first cartwheel in years, which was really just a hop on my hands, followed by me collapsing on the mat laughing. The girls cheered and laughed along with me. In fact, they found it to be so hilarious that they asked me to do it all the time: during announcements, on the green, on stage, in gymnastics, in the cabin, into the lake, pretty much any time they felt like watching their 17-year-old counselor fail at cartwheeling. For our cabin intro skit, my campers asked me to cartwheel onto stage decked out in my flamingo costume to introduce them in typical MC fashion, causing the entire camp to erupt in laughter. As humiliating as this sounds, I loved getting laughed at and learning how to laugh at myself.
As I let go and embraced being bad at something, I noticed that my campers became quicker to try new things and be okay with not being the best at everything, too. Together, we learned how to laugh off our mistakes and have fun learning new skills. One of my cabins only had returning campers, so when they entered into this COVID-summer, they were a little hesitant to do the activities that they had never tried before. Many of them were scared about trying new things for the first time, but by the end of each session, once unfamiliar activities had become their favorites. My vulnerability reminded me that it is empowering to put myself out there, and in learning that lesson in front of my campers, I helped them learn it too. After ten weeks doing disastrous cartwheels to entertain the campers, I still can’t do one, but I did learn a new skill: how to be vulnerable in front of others.
As I continue to grow at camp, I continue to learn from my campers about becoming even more comfortable being my most honest, silly, and vulnerable self. Over the past seven years, everyone from Page to the newest of campers has taught me invaluable lessons of resilience, courage, and hope which I cherish and appreciate both in and outside of my time at camp. I want to encourage you to look at each morning like it’s your first day at camp; a new opportunity to try something you never thought you could enjoy, a chance to be vulnerable and open to mistakes, and a chance to be the resilient Keystone girl you are. Make the first step, I promise it’s worth it.