New Camp Counselors Take the Reigns at Washington DC Tzu Chi Academy’s Summer Camp

Greater Washington D.C.  |  July 8, 2019
Photo by: Wendy Tsai

Written by Stephanie Shao
Edited by Dilber Shatursun

This year, the Washington DC Tzu Chi Academy recruited local Tzu Ching (Tzu Chi’s collegiate youth group) and Tzu Shao (Tzu Chi’s youth group) to be counselors at its annual summer camp. This was the first year counselors have led curriculum planning and activity facilitation for the camp. More than 12 counselors volunteered their time throughout the brainstorming process and provided on-site support. Here are a few post-camp reflections from our camp counselors this year:

First time for everything

I started the camp planning and facilitating process feeling very nervous, but by the end I am filled with gratitude and respect for all the staff, mentors, and fellow counselors who put in so much thought and work to educate and engage the children. I was able to witness the change in behaviors and attitude of the children in just two short days. This gave me a deeper appreciation of Tzu Chi's humanistic education and mission. Overall, I am proud to have been a part of this experience and look forward to creating more inspiring curricula for the children in future camps or other settings.

Sleepless in Bethesda

Photo by: Wendy Tsai

I remember the night before TCA summer camp, I could barely get any sleep because I was so excited for the next two days. My fellow counselors and I had spent the past several weeks planning curriculum for the campers, and I couldn't wait to see how it all turned out. I woke up the next morning exhausted, but as soon as the campers started coming in I was reenergized by their smiles and laughter. Over the next two days, it was an amazing experience being able to work and play with all of the campers. To see them learn and grow while doing environmental activities was inspirational, knowing that these young campers were the seeds of the next generation. By the end of camp, I was reminded of the constant need to serve our children, to make sure that they grow up to be respectful, gracious, and loving adults.

Growing Gains

Photo by: Wendy Tsai

Tzu Chi Academy’s summer camp was unforgettable. I cherish every moment I had with the campers - sharing laughs, making arts and crafts, hiking outdoors. My favorite part was sitting together during mealtimes. The campers allowed me to learn more about my strengths and weaknesses. In two days, I’ve grown so much as a volunteer and as a person.

Learning Curve

Photo by: Wendy Tsai

For the past month and a half, my friends from the University of Maryland’s Tzu Ching chapter and I have worked closely with other volunteers from the Tzu Chi DC region to plan activities for the Tzu Chi Academy Summer Camp. I felt a strong sense of admiration for my peers who volunteered their precious time to plan something they have no obligation to; especially since many of the volunteers were concurrently studying for final exams. Although many of the volunteers had little to no experience with the students of the Tzu Chi Academy, they still dedicated their time whole-heartedly to bring the campers a fulfilling camp experience. Seeing the volunteers’ commitment to provide a memorable camp experience was extremely inspiring. All of the volunteers seemed to embody the philosophy to help and provide the best quality of care and attention to everyone and anyone, both in preparing the camp and leading the camp. As someone who had the pleasure to work with these individuals, I can definitively say that I am proud to have been a part of such a wonderful team

A Whole New World

Photo by: Wendy Tsai

I was a part of this camp as a camper since I was very young and it has been such an honor to be given the opportunity to help coordinate camp this year. I was able to see the camp from a different perspective and learn more about myself and the campers. I know most of the campers from a Chinese School point of view so it was awesome that I got to see them in a different setting. We got to show the kids how to take all the things they learned at school and apply them into their daily lives through fun activities and games. The counselors I worked with were amazing and so supportive in every way possible. I am proud to have worked with such hardworking and dedicated people. It is very rare to find a group of people you genuinely love and care for and Tzu Chi is that exact group of people for me. Being a part of this camp is an experience I would not trade for anything else. I hope I get the chance in the future to work with the counselors and campers again to further learn and grow.

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