I just got back from two sessions of Camp Texas and decided that a blog post of this particular topic would be very appropriate.
5. Because regardless of what it seemed like, I had a really tough time adjusting to life at UT during my freshman year – and I want to minimize that for other incoming freshmen. Not only did I come from halfway across the country, I also had never planned on attending UT and knew as much about it as its brochures would tell me. I felt like I had been randomly plopped down on campus just because my family was going to relocate to Austin, Texas anyway (though when I entered, I couldn’t see myself going to any other college). Going to a school with over 50,000 students and not knowing anyone in or anything about it was really discouraging as a fresh-out-of-high-school college student. The culture shock was much bigger than I had ever expected. And although the strong “I’m a proud Texan” culture is really great, it’s also really alienating for an out-of-state student. I felt lonely even though I was hanging out with people all of the time and I don’t want any incoming freshman to feel lonely like that, whether he/she is from Texas or not. And I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen.
4. Because I want the campers to learn what real teamwork is like. We can choose how we function but we can’t control the actions or thoughts of others. Each of us thinks differently from another. All of us have been affected by different experiences in life who have shaped who we are now. Disagreements are frequent and often even necessary. But the important thing is that we are all able to understand that a person who is working with us is different – and that while we should always stand up for what we believe in, we should also be able to compromise in areas that don’t affect our core mission. Real teamwork is a tough stage to attain but once we’re there, our teams will be undefeated by any negative influences.
3. Because the counselors themselves are really, really amazing. They’re one of the very rare groups of people I know in which every single member is a truly happy, down-to-earth, and genuinely caring person. They serve as a constant reminder for me that there are good people in this world who live their lives for the benefit of not only their own ambitious selves, but also for the well-being of others. If I were to take myself away from this astonishing team, finding someone as caring as they are would be as elusive as hunting for a bull elk (which is one of the most difficult animals to hunt, FYI – not that I actually go hunting). This group serves as my encouragement and inspiration even though they’re not the group of people I spend the most time with on campus.
2. Because as a counselor, we’re inspiring a group of younger people who are more or less following in our footsteps. While all of us are the future of society, we’re a few steps ahead as counselors and we can pass down bits and pieces of wisdom so that the campers don’t make the same mistakes we did (although if you must go through a “mistake,” they’re still great for life lessons). We are people who serve as a guiding light when they feel lost or disheartened. We are people who can keep their dreams alive and keep building their potential to be the best people they can be. There’s nothing better in this world than to be as positive of an influence as that in someone’s life.
1. And because you know you’re somebody’s role model. Even though it’s a challenging position to be in, it’s also an incredibly honorable one.
Camp Texas is a part informational, part social, and part leadership training summer camp for incoming first-year students at the University of Texas at Austin. For more information, visit texasexes.org/camptexas.