After I turned 15, my summers changed from relaxing days on the beach to days spent at a part time job. No complaints though, this year I landed one of the best jobs any high schooler could ask for – being a summer camp counselor. I taught tennis to kids and teens from the ages of six to fifteen. Every student brought their own stories and personalities to camp. As I reflect back on my summer, there are a few life lessons my kids taught me that shine through.
If life throws us a curve ball, we just have to remember to follow through on our swing and win the point.
IT’S ALL ABOUT FAIRNESS
On the tennis courts, every point is a serious situation for a player. When kids are involved, every point is a life or death situation. Each kid wants their racket to be the one to make the amazing shot that no one else could touch. If they don’t get a ball hit to them right, they have no problem asking an instructor to redo it- regardless how many others are in line. All that matters is that they have the same ball and opportunity their peers received. They have the drive, they also demand a level playing field. Fairness is something we all want. If life throws us a curve ball, we just have to remember to follow through on our swing and win the point.
PATIENCE IS KEY
Thank you mom for putting up with me all these years. After my first week of camp, I was so tired. Every day each kid had a new story to tell, a new game, or an argument with someone. At first, I thought they would get over it quickly, wanting to play more tennis than talk. Oh was I wrong. Patience became my best friend, and like all good friends, it’s staying by my side.
INJURIES ARE BOUND TO HAPPEN
Ten kids running around in a fenced area are bound to have some collisions. Tears are no longer a stranger to me, nor am I afraid of them. The best part of dealing with kid tears compared to weird adult tears, is that the kids are always ready to jump back into the game. After a couple minutes of sitting on the bench, they take a breath, focus and join back in with their friends. We all fall down occasionally. Tears are not a setback, they’re a natural response. They know after the tears have flowed, getting back up and in the game is the most important part.
When it comes time to pick teams, there are always a number of silent looks shot between new friends made at camp. We all do the same when a teacher announces it’s a group project, right? It’s only a matter of minutes before two eight-year old’s become best friends, but it takes me at least two months. Friend requirements when you’re younger consist of being a nice person and…. that’s it. Kids can make friends in two minutes because they make friends with everyone. The crowds, groups, and ‘cliques,’ that we encounter later on are basically nonexistent. I admire how easily my kids make new friends, and their openness to everyone is something I hope to improve in my own life.
The young ones, they seem to have it figured out. I hope to keep their lessons close to my heart, and remember that being kind, patient, fair and feeling those emotions are the best ways of being human.