October 1, 2016 | Destiny Caldwell
It’s kind of cool how the life cycle of a butterfly is so similar to a transition from high school to college.
High school can be referred to as the “egg” stage. When high school students begin to explore their college options, they are known as a prospective, or the “caterpillar” stage. As they begin to attend orientation and Bearkat Camp, they’re in their “chrysalis” form. When students first arrive, they’re really reserved and quiet. Most of the time, they don’t have friends from their hometowns coming with them to experience all these events. As a SAMbassador, I have had the honor to present tours of our campus to so many prospective students and their families.
Considering that I am also an Orientation Leader, I’ve had the chance to see these individuals (some of which I have given a tour to), blossom and really become excited about college. When the opportunity to become a Bearkat Camp Counselor opened up, I jumped into it without hesitation. Little did I know, I would be embarking on a mini life cycle of my own.
I’ll start by being honest; I hate the outdoors. I didn’t go camping as a child and the closest I’ve ever been to a tent were the ones pitched during tailgate. I love avoiding the heat, cell phone charging stations, and not sweating. When I attended the four day, three night Bearkat Camp as an incoming freshman during the summer of 2015, I got to experience all of those things. Sure, I had to go outside and play the in the Texas heat for an hour or two, but our cabins had AC and hot water. I made amazing friends, and my counselors were super cool. When I got hired as a counselor, I had no idea that I was getting myself into the ultimate comfort outreach.
Right off the bat, the session I was working had an 80% chance of rain for the duration of the time we were supposed to be there. No big deal, right? Freshman come first.
After a few hours in shelter-in-place, a gruesome pie eating contest, and a couple of hilariously terrible lip-sync performances, I found myself (rain afflicted hair and all) being placed in the shoes of a camper. The students taught me how to two-step, some cool country line dances, how to successfully avoid being stung by a bee, and reminded me of all the quirky sayings high schoolers come up with. During this time, everyone (myself included), broke out of their shells and started forming into butterflies.
With rain and the wilderness come mud; lots and lots of red mud. But, as the saying reads, “the show must go on”. The camp activities continued, which included three intense rounds of gaga ball in a (now mud filled) pit. The closest I’ve ever been to mud was the kind used in my facial mask. Since life is a challenge, and because I was pressured into it, I played the most intense, and messiest, game of gaga ball (and lost).
That night, I was able to showcase my, albeit rough, newly learned two-step dance moves. I’m not really a fan of country music, but I took pride in seeing all the campers dance and genuinely enjoy themselves
Because I work with orientation and the Visitor Center, I thought I learned everything there was to know about being a mentor. I felt compelled to share all of my knowledge with other people, but I ignorantly forgot that life is a constant lesson. We grow and learn new things every day. I think that Bearkat Camp really gave me a chance to sit back and genuinely reflect on all the things I thought I was so familiar with.
With this being the second week of school, I have seen many students on campus flourish into awesome Bearkittens. I can’t even count on two hands how many people have come up to me saying that they remember me from camp and how much of an impact the experience had on them.
I’ve seriously grown and blossomed with the students that I’ve had and I’ve gained much experience and knowledge from them.
I want to thank my awesome counselor partner, Peter, (even though I can dance better than you), our amazingly (competitive) camper group, and SHSU for giving me the best summer of my life, thus far.
I still hate being outside though.
Eat ‘Em Up Kats,