We are deep in the throes of the hiring season here at Ghostlight Theater Camp. It is very exciting for me in particular because I get to hear from so many amazing young adults who want to come to spend a summer in Maine with us supporting our campers. A lot of time is spent with me asking questions of applicants. Questions like, “Why do you want to work at camp?” “What do you hope campers will get out of their time at Ghostlight Theater Camp?” “How would you encourage a camper who is having a hard time?” The answers I hear remind me that the best resource we have as a staff is each other. There are some amazing people out there!
But, outside of asking the questions, I always open up the conversation to hear what questions applicants have for me. Yesterday, I was asked what is perhaps my favorite question yet. “What do you look for in a counselor?”
Now, without divulging the identity of this person let me tell you that they were a camper at Ghostlight Theater Camp for many years. I immediately felt put on the spot. Whatever my answer was going to be, it would be held up against years of personal experience and would either be thought of as an honest answer, or one that was simply an ideal. I stalled. I started talking about situations that might come up at camp and how I thought an ideal counselor might handle them.
“Well,” I slowly said, “I think that a great counselor is someone that in the middle of their own exhaustion can find the energy to get their campers excited for the day.” That didn’t quite get to the heart of it. “They are someone who, when a camper doesn’t necessarily want to play ultimate frisbee for an activity, is able to shine a light on ways that it can be fun, even while personally abhorring frisbee themself. They are willing to be the first fool in the room when we are asking campers to be big and bold, even though they run the risk of looking strange or ‘not cool.’ They sacrifice their 20 minutes that day when a shower was possible to go find the copy of Harry Potter the camper left ‘somewhere yesterday.’”
That was it. In every example I could think of where a counselor was being ideal, they were modeling selfless behavior. That is the one thing I look for most in a counselor. And that is an incredibly huge ask, for it means that what I am asking is actually antithetical to so much of the modern sensibility that tells us, above all things, that self-care is crucial. We are empowered by social media to stand up for what WE need in the world, and here I am saying that for 6 weeks we are asking you to think first of what other people need.
This question has stuck with me. For one, I like my answer and it has helped me going forward in naming why I am excited about an applicant or feel that the job may not be right for another. But it has also challenged me to look at my own acts of selflessness. For, if counselors must first think of their campers, then I must first think of our staff. My challenge, and I do choose to accept it, is to work tirelessly and selflessly to support, encourage, and praise all these amazing people who say yes to the call of working at Ghostlight Theater Camp this summer.
I will do all I can.
The countdown is on and I cannot wait!