They just can’t stay away! Students and alumni return to campus to work at the Sidwell Summer program.
Many Americans have fond memories of days spent at summer camp—making s’mores over an open fire, chanting lively camp cheers, slathering on sunscreen before an exciting sports game, and much more. Sidwell Summer—a program based at the Upper School that offers many different day camps and study opportunities—runs throughout students’ vacation time. Every year, a group of dedicated Sidwell Friends students and alumni brings unforgettable camp memories to a new generation by returning to campus as counselors.
Michael Adeyi ’18 has many years of experience with Sidwell Summer. As a kid, he attended the Voyagers program, in which campers go on daily field trips to water parks, baseball games, mini golf courses, and more. Later, he attended Sidwell Summer’s soccer camp, an experience he enjoyed so much that he joined CAP (the counselor assistant program) as soon as he was old enough. Now it’s Michael’s second summer as a full-fledged counselor.
“Being a Sidwell student makes it easy,” he says. “Having also gone to the camp myself, it was seamless. Even though most of the soccer camp counselors don’t go to Sidwell, just being on campus makes you feel at home. It’s also really cool because there’s an emphasis on fun—parents want their kids to enjoy themselves for the day. As opposed to exhausting kids with drills drills drills, we’re all here to have fun with the sport.”
Samantha Gamble ’17 has worked at Sidwell Summer’s basketball camp for two years. It’s also her first year as a counselor at its Explorer camp, in which kids choose from a variety of exciting crafts, sports, and activities each day.
“My favorite part of working as a counselor at Sidwell Summer is getting to know the kids,” she says. “And I mean the ones who I really get to know and befriend—the ones whose names and favorite TV shows and least favorite lunches I know by heart at the end of the session.”
Alex McCoy ’04 agrees—she is currently the camp’s assistant director of auxiliary programs and has worked for Sidwell Summer in various capacities since 2006. “I love interacting with campers and hearing about their favorite parts of camp,” she says. “Especially those who come in nervous at first—and leave loving their experience!”
Samantha adds that her time as a counselor is also full of funny stories. “Last summer at basketball camp, I was challenged by a camper to compete in a one-on-one challenge,” she says. “We do challenges against staff at the end of the day, and if the campers win, they get to pick out a prize. It was a hilarious match-up, and of course, she beat me—much to the entertainment of all of my fellow counselors!”
But it’s all in good fun, and Samantha remembers the experience fondly, citing the many benefits being a counselor has given her. “I develop incredible patience, spend time with kids with no motive other than to make sure they are having fun, and learn to work well with people of all ages—young campers, my fellow staff members, parents, and camp directors.”
“Just being there to help is the main thing,” says Michael. “It connects you to the community.”