This is the first post by Kelsey Van Vleck, this year’s assistant program director. She’s a former athletics and canoeing counselor and is really excited to be back at Riverlea this year. Look for more posts from Kelsey throughout the summer!
All year, I have been anticipating the start of camp, and when Julia called me to say we needed to start preparing, I was super excited! One of the first things we worked on together was preparing for the Orc orientation day (or “Orcientation” as we like to call it). At Riverlea, the counselors-in-training are called Orcs, and they are assigned to a group of campers for a whole session to safely bring campers to activities and to assist counselors. After student teaching high school, I felt I had some necessary qualifications to help lead this day. Julia and I were a bit nervous about doing things right, but also eager to get to know all of the Orcs. On the day of Orcientation, I stood at the door anxiously but happily awaiting the arrival of our Orcs. I remember seeing the first one pull up, and being shocked at how much she had grown. The same reaction seemed to happen repeatedly, and it was so exciting to see how these previous campers had grown and matured.
One of my favorite activities was getting the Orcs to perform skits on “right” and “wrong” ways to handle situations with campers. Their reenactments were clever, funny, and very energetic. I loved how the Orcs were so in tune with typical camper behaviors and responses, and it has given me a lot of comfort seeing how they seemed to be really excited about camp starting. It was also a great opportunity when the Orcs were split into four groups and were each assigned a specific camper age group. As I walked by, I could hear them really brainstorming and doing a wonderful job pinpointing characteristics of campers at different ages. They seemed to remember a lot about being campers themselves, and were able to correlate that with how other campers may act, feel, or think.
The Orcs were also alert and patient during the parts that were less fun, but necessary. Reading over the packets with basic rules is really important, and they did a great job of actively listening and responding to questions we asked them. The bullying part of the packet probably was the most interesting and successful part of the reading. I was surprised at how much the Orcs had to say about their views on bullying and ways to prevent it from happening. Knowing how aware they were of these issues put my mind at ease that our camp will be a fun and friendly place for all of the campers this summer!
All in all, I feel that Orcientation went very well. I am super excited for camp to start, and I have confidence that our Orcs will be open to learning even more throughout their session. I would like to thank all of the Orcs for being so great at their orientation, and I can’t wait to work with all of them this summer!