My first day as a counselor at In the City Camp

Written by Dalya Panbehchi, In the City Camp counselor and rising senior at Yeshiva Atlanta High School

It was June 9th, 8:40am, and campers began arriving at morning carpool. As they got out of their cars, I, along with my co-counselors, personally walked them to the camp’s entrance doors. I asked if they were excited about the first day of camp, quickly learning that they were both apprehensive and nervous at the thought of a new camp with multitudes of unknowns. I let them know that I had similar feelings, being a new counselor myself.

Assigned to 7 and 8 year old girls, I scouted camp grounds, excited about meeting my new campers. Three young girls caught my eye and made their way over to me. “Are you our counselor?” they asked with big smiles. I asked how old they were, to which I received a response of “Seven! Eight! Eight!” I smiled, asked for their names, and introduced myself as one of their counselors. I then asked them to meet upstairs for a bunk meeting.

Dalya's bunk
Dalya and Adele’s awesome bunk!

When every girl had situated herself in the circle as my co-counselor, Adele, and I had requested, we got down to business. We began the meeting with an introductory game of “What’s your name, what’s your favorite ice cream, and what are you most excited to do at camp?” After 20 minutes of warm-up games like this to get our girls comfortable with us and with each other, Adele & I took the girls downstairs for Peulah 1, or Activity 1.

The entire camp gathered together, while the activity options were announced: Sports, drama, dance, or art. I took the girls who wanted to go to dance upstairs, where the talented dance teacher, Ms. Christian, was waiting. We did some fun warm-up exercises and then the girls learned a cute dance routine.

We had snack right after, and then the campers went off to the next activity of their choosing. This time, I chose to attend art with some of the girls. Our creative art teacher, Karin Mervis, who works at the High Museum of Art during the year, explained the “Hills of Jerusalem” assignment. An hour and a half of pastel-stained fingers, shrieks of laughter, and tongue-sticking-out-concentration later, the boys and girls had each created a colorful masterpiece of their own.

Hockney hills3
Hockney-style “Hills of Jerusalem” artwork

Adele and I took our girls outside to eat, and we collectively decided on the bunk name, “The Incredibles.” The girls finished eating their lunches, and then headed off to play the sport or game of their choice for the remainder of the lunch period.  After lunch, the entire camp gathered inside to sing the Birkat Hamazon, the prayer recited after concluding a meal.

On to Peulah 3! Sports was where I headed next. We prepped with quick sunscreen, hydrated with plenty of water, and relieved bladders with a bathroom trip. Then, we put our game faces on for kickball and made our way to the field.

After the game, sweaty and red-faced, there was nothing more we wanted than to be engulfed by the pool’s crisp, cool water.  So headed back to the house, packed all of our belongings, and walked over to the indoor pool.  After changing in the locker rooms, we yelled “1, 2, 3!”, and jumped into the pool together.  There was a good amount of splashing, giggling, and jumping that went down, and I could already tell the campers had let their initial walls down and had let camp life in.

Fun in the pool!

It’s easy to say that the first day of camp was a huge success. It was my first day as a counselor, and yet I felt as if I was already part of In the City Camp’s fantastic family. It was a great first day of camp, and I’m looking forward to an adventurous summer In the City!

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