By Heather Cohen, SED 2017
I have been attending the same Jewish overnight camp, Camp Galil, since I was 11 years old, and now I have been a counselor there for the past two summers. My camp is not your typical camp, because while of course we have fun, there are also scheduled educational activities throughout the day. The younger age groups (going into 4th-7th grade) have one educational activity while the older age groups (going into 8th-10th grade) have two.
These activities vary greatly, anything from Israel’s history to how to get along with your peers to gender stereotypes and etc. I remember learning about Darfur, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how to respect my fellow bunkmates, and how to express myself through art and poetry. I loved the approach that my camp took to learning about these things. Our counselors would first do a “trigger” which was an activity to get us excited about what we were going to do next. Then there would be some kind of interactive aspect, for example, sometimes we would either act out scenarios or walk around and read information like we were in a museum.
After that, we would sit in a circle and have a discussion about what we did or what we learned. I remember being a camper and wishing this was how my actual school taught lessons. I was so much more engaged in these activities than I had ever been sitting in my desk at school. I felt more confident in sharing my thoughts in these circles than I did in the classroom, where I always feared that I had the wrong answer.
As a sophomore in the School of Education at Boston University, majoring in English Education, I am studying how to become the best teacher I can possibly be for my future students. Currently, I am in a general methods class where I am learning how to design lesson plans. These lesson plans, it turns out, look a lot like the plans for the educational activities I planned with my co-counselors for the past two summers. So while for most of my classmates, this is their first time writing lesson plans, I have had two summers of experience planning and executing these lessons. Have these activities been as academic as my future lessons will be? No, definitely not. Regardless, I have gotten experience with teaching without truly realizing it.
Being a camp counselor can seem like a cop out summer job for most college students, but for someone studying education, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Working with campers over the summer has affirmed for me, that teaching is what I was meant for. Whether it be fall, winter, spring or even summer, educating others is what I’ll be doing.
Heather Cohen is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in English Education.