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Day campers grow up to become counselors

By By JULIE RUSSELL-The Brewton Standard
Working with kids requires a kind of patience and understanding that not all people have.
The camp counselors at the YMCA have learned this, and are developing the special qualities that it takes to work with kids, while they themselves are at an early age – an age between adolescence and adulthood. Because the counselors can vividly remember what it is like to be a kid, they know how to relate to their students.
Many of the counselors attended the summer camp as children and have come back to reinvent themselves in this position of higher power.
Fourteen-year-old Andrea Barow has attended the YMCA summer camp since she was in second grade, and this year she is volunteering as a junior counselor.
Heather Ellis, who organized the summer camp, said that the counselors have a lot of kids to manage. At the beginning of the summer, there were 90 kids in attendance, and now there are about 30. The kids, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade, are divided into groups according to age.
Ellis is busy with college during the fall, but she has come back to the YMCA every summer for the past four years to manage the camp.
Kids are kept busy with swimming, arts and crafts, and field trips. Almost all activities are geared toward a theme, which changes weekly. This week is safari week and at the end of the week, the kids will take a field trip to the zoo. Other field trips have included bowling, skating, and a trip to Monroeville to see Madagascar.
There are about 10 counselors, all high school and college-aged. Near the end of the program, the counselors and their kids take part in a talent show, and friends and parents are invited to watch. Ellis said that this activity provides a high note near the end of the summer camp.