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Summer Livin’

In January or so, I started looking for summer work on K-Connect and came across a job as a camp counselor at Camp Ramapo in Rhinebeck, NY. It’s a special needs camp that helps “build relationships and inspire success.” So I applied and ended up taking the job.

The camp is divided into three different summer sessions. The first session was two weeks long. I worked with six cognitively impaired teenage girls who were absolutely wonderful. Prior to coming to camp, I had never worked with autistic children before, and had no idea the amount of patience and courage it takes to take care of them. No books can ever teach you the experiences that you learn at camp when physically working with these amazing kids. Second session was three weeks long and I worked with mostly behavioral teenage girls. I thought my patience had hit its limit first session, but I had no idea that those girls were going to push it more. It was difficult for me to separate what was a special behavioral needs and what was just typical behavioral for just teenage girls. Third session I worked with a mixture of CI (Cognitively Impaired) and behavioral teenage girls. I found session three easier to manage because I knew how to handle almost every escalating situation, although the girls are always willing to test me! I learned so many new ways to resolve conflicts, to appreciate the little successes in life and really understand what it takes to truly give someone my all. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and has had a profound impact on me.

On my days off, I hiked up Katerskill Falls, went to the hippie-town Woodstock (which is 20 minutes away), explored downtown Rhinebeck and visited America’s Oldest Inn, where Ben Franklin and George Washington used to go! One weekend I visited New York City and the craziest thing happened! I was calling any body that I knew in NYC, so I contacted fellow K student Anya Opshinsky, who happens to live in Manhattan. So I called her up and she said that she would be going to Baltimore for the weekend so I would have to get her keys from her doorman. As this phone conversation was going on, I was walking towards Penn Station and decided that I wanted coffee at a business joint across the street. As I walked into the door, Anya was standing at the register, phone in hand. Out of the 13 million people living in New York City, how in the world could we have been at the exact same coffee shop AND be talking on the phone at the exact same time AND without planning it? What a Koincidence!

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About Courtney Wise ʼ15

Courtney Wise is a junior at Kalamazoo College. She is an anthropology/sociology major with a community and global health concentration. Courtney just returned from studying abroad in Varanasi, India and enjoys cross-country, puns, drawing, stimulating conversations, and playing Scattergories.

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