Inside the mind of an eight-year-old

Graphic by Carley McGlynn

Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is one of the toughest, and most rewarding things we can do.

It’s hard at our age, in our “adult” life, to see the world in an innocent light. We have been tainted by our experiences, by our hardships, and we often forget that there is still magic in this world.

I’ve worked at a summer camp for five years now. I was at an overnight camp until last summer, where I finished off as program director and now this summer, I find myself running after children at a day camp. The things I have learned from these kids in these past years are invaluable. They’ve taught me to laugh at myself, to understand the importance of a friendship and that really, a hug solves everything.

However, I’ve also learned how incredibly tiring looking after someone else’s children can be. You’re not their mom; they don’t have to listen to you. This makes for a very long day, and a few too many beers with dinner.

Take, for example, this one camper I had, we will call him John. He has the attention span of a spoon. He is genuinely out to lunch most of the time, and getting him to go somewhere is like pulling teeth. But the thing is, he doesn’t do it intentionally.

It’s not like he wakes up in the morning and thinks “how can I piss off my counselor today?” (unless he actually does do that, in which case, I have no solution). I really believe that John just has such a wandering mind that no one can control it; I don’t even think he can control it.

So yes, it’s frustrating having to tell him a hundred times to NOT THROW PINE CONES, but at the end of the day, it’s something to laugh at.

Although, try taking eight five year olds to the science centre. The only stress-free part of that day was finding the soundproof room. I made sure to stay in there an extra few minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, most days are good days. There is nothing more heart-warming than having six seven-year-olds fight over who gets to sit on your lap or who can hold your hand. And when they cry because they don’t want their parents to pick them up, you can’t help but smile.

Call me biased, but I do believe that being a camp counselor is one of the hardest summer jobs. I have great respect for my friends that are cooped up in an office all day, dealing with memos and projects and other things that I really know nothing about.

But the next time you want to complain about it being too cold in your air-conditioned office, just remember that we are outside, in 40-degree weather, chasing screaming children.

So next time someone tells you they’re a camp counselor, high-five them; tell them you admire them and exchange notes. Chances are, that whiny co-worker you’re always complaining about ironically shares the same attributes of a whiny five-year-old. And we have all the answers for curing whininess.

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