An Assistant Director’s ode to the CITs
In the summer of 2017, I had the wonderful privilege of being one of the two Assistant Directors at Camp Wapomeo (shout out to the amazing Kate O!!). At the beginning of July, CIT SD Meryl was given the task of guiding one of our Kipawas. She was totally game, and did a fabulous job on the trip. This is what makes TSC staff incredible – they are resilient, ready for anything and put the campers first. As Meryl embarked on her tripping adventure, I took over as CIT SD for the month of July. This role turned out to be one of the out-front highlights of my summer.
We were lucky to have such a strong and large group of CITs in 2017 – we had 35! The CIT year is one with many challenges: They are first-year staff; the transition from camper to staff can be jarring. For many, this is a first job. For a few, this is their first year at TSC—breaking in to friend groups is daunting. Living in shared accommodation, including in ‘centres’, means little sleep for some. They move a lot. They rep activities, do dishes, do maintenance tasks, and are also acclimating to being ‘in camp’ – many are coming to us from a couple of years of long canoe trips. Giving each one the opportunity to try different trips, roles and age groups is a tricky and very important task. Now that the summers include so many sessions (1 full, 2 one-month, 4 two-week, and 4 try-out camp [TOCOS]), staffing cabins, trips and housing is a pretty complex game of Tetris. For them, balancing new leadership roles, work, and the ever-important, sometimes-overwhelming social life at camp is a big job.
In the second and third weeks of July, I met with each CIT, and talked with them about how they were doing, and what they would like to accomplish/try over their time at camp. This let me get to know them, and let them get to know me a bit. Over the course of the summer, I was delighted to watch them thrive, laugh, learn and connect – with kids, with each other, and with the staff. When Meryl returned, she led them in their regular CIT periods through skill development sessions, and led fun outings with them, supporting the group as they rounded out the summer.
Those early staff years for me led to some of the strongest friendships of my life, and taught me a lot about what work can look like (fun, hard, sometimes gross, and really rewarding). The CITs of 2017 killed it, through crazy weather & many campers and sessions, with enormous smiles and hard work. Working with and for them was one of the very best parts of my already great summer. I cannot wait to see what they do next.
– Alexa Scully