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Counselor Feature: Piglet

Hey everyone!

This is the first installment of our Counselor Feature series, where our counselors get the chance to talk about their Camp Kesem experiences. This week we have a post from Piglet, or Leah:



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My name is Leah Steinberg and I am a junior at the University of Michigan majoring in

an Independent Concentration Project titled “the history, culture, and literature of religion.”

Before I came to college, I was very involved in my town’s Relay For Life, choosing to devote

my passion to helping families coping with cancer that way, a cause very close to my heart. As

wonderful as my efforts felt, there were times when I wished I could feel the results of my

fundraising more personally, and see the people that my work was helping. It may seem natural

then that I was attracted to Camp Kesem, on the contrary though, I never thought CK would

prove to hold the place in my heart it now does.

Because until I became a volunteer counselor at Camp Kesem two summers ago, I had

never really considered myself a “kids person.” It’s not that I didn’t like kids, I just couldn’t see

myself really getting along with children and relating to them in a way that my camp counselors

had always gotten along with me. So when I first arrived at Camp Copneconic, about to spend a

whole week mentoring teenagers, I was more nervous than I can describe. At our first cabin chat

of the week, as I looked around at the 13-16 year olds’ similarly nervous faces, I was so nervous

that they wouldn’t like me. I thought I would be that dud counselor who never formed a bond

with any of the children in her bunk. But as soon as the campers began to tease and bond with

each other, that first night at camp, my worries began to melt away.

Granted, these kids were only a few years younger than I, but still their humor and their

passions aligned perfectly with my own. These kids loved to do ballet and they loved to play

cards with their friends. As the week continued, their bonds only deepened, and I continued to

talk and connect with them; they amazed me with how much older they acted than their age. I

became friends with these kids. There were times when I forgot that they had been through so

much in their lives because we were able to talk about TV shows, music, and current events

so easily. But beyond that, I also could not get over how deep our connection was able to get

through cabin chats.

It was at those moments when a quiet child spoke up for the first time and the rest of

the cabin fled to her side to hold her hand and whisper that they understood what she was going

through that I saw how important this camp was for them and for every single person who has

ever struggled and felt alone in their life. This camp was more than fundraising; it was providing

a support system, a place to make lifelong confidents. My time at Camp Kesem felt personal not

just because of the connections and memories I witnessed, but because I knew these kids were

going to have an easier time at home because of camp, something that before that first summer I

did not think possible for children in their position. I am honored to have been able to sit by them

and cry with them, as they became more than my campers and more than my friends, but the kids

who showed me that I really was a “kids person,” and I want to help mentor children for the rest

of my life. Camp Kesem also taught me that it is the magical moments that make a difference; it

is connections made and advice given and no amount of fundraising can fill the void that passion

and support does. I know that is something I will hold with me for my whole life.