Friday, August 1, 2014

I Work At Camp

I’m sitting on a cot, in a cabin, in the middle of the woods. I haven’t felt air conditioning in weeks, and haven’t had a proper shower in longer. No, I didn’t get an internship this summer; I didn’t even try. As much as the Goizueta Business School and many of my peers insisted that a taste of the “business world” was the obvious next step in my young life, I decided to return to a place that makes me happier than any other in the world. So here I am, in Wayne, Maine, spending my summer at Camp Androscoggin.

While many of my friends are wasting away in cubicles (albeit reeling in a lot more cash than I am working this 24/7 job), I’m coaching basketball and living with a bunk of eleven-year-olds. There is certainly something to be said about young adults pursuing their dreams, but I think the notion of an internship has polluted the way college students approach their future. In many cases, it seems as if students see internships as a way to discover their ambitions, as opposed to realizing their ambitions through those jobs.

At Emory, the pre-professional culture is overwhelming. The pressure to go pre-med, or join the Business School draws a huge chunk of the student body away from the liberal arts. After one semester at Goizueta, many of my classmates have bought in to the standard mantra that sophomore-internship = junior-internship = job-offer. They believe this because it’s true; if you go through the motions, graduate with decent grades, and apply for enough positions, chances are you’ll end up with a job out of college. In this economy, it really is difficult to argue with that equation.

This brings me back to camp. The reason I enjoy this job so much goes past my love of basketball and the summer weather in Maine. Androscoggin’s motto is “help the other fellow.” Here, we preach selflessness—acting for the benefit of the group rather than that of the individual. The counselors certainly don’t come back every year for the money; we come back for the community. This is the only place I’ve worked where success is measured not by what you’ve achieved for yourself, but rather, what you’ve helped others achieve.

The effect that camp can have on kids is sometimes astounding. The counselors here truly act as role models for the children that we look after all summer. Only a few people know that it was my former counselor’s blog that inspired me to start Student Parking Only. If he got an internship after his sophomore year at Duke instead of coming back to Andro, I might have never sat down to write that first fateful post.

Call it immaturity. Call it ignorance. Call it whatever you want. I don’t need an internship. I don’t even want one. Right now, I’m just trying to do my part to make the world a better place. For the kids here, I’m doing just that. Camp values all the virtues that an investment bank ignores. When you look at my resume, it reads camp counselor, but there’s something about this job that one line cannot really articulate. There isn’t anyplace I’d rather be.