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It was 10:30 PM on another Thursday night at summer camp in Freedom, New Hampshire. However, it wasn’t just another night. The head photographer, a professional for many years, had suddenly decided to quit. He left me, a 16-year old Counselor in Training, sitting in the office, simply saying “Olivia, you’ll be fine these next 11 days.” I sank into my chair as a wave of fear and insecurity swept over me. Down the hall of my office in the admin building was the director’s office, the only place I knew I could turn. I walked in, sat down, and said to him: “I have no idea what I’m going to do, and I have no idea how I’m going to do this. All I know is that I want to.” We talked through what my approach and strategies would be for the next hour and a half, until I left to sleep on it.
I woke up the next morning thinking about everything that I had learned from shadowing the photographer for the past month. I realized there was nothing to be scared about, because everybody had my back. All the counselors, all my campers, all my friends and all the directors were all rooting for me. They would do anything to help me get where I needed to be. I walked into my office, picked up my camera, and walked out. It was “go” time.
The next 11 days I did all that I knew: I snapped, snapped, and snapped away.
Every day, I had three deadlines, four hours apart. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, another photo album went up on Facebook with my name on it. While parents were poring over photos of their children, and messaging us for more, I was out in the field documenting all the fun that was to be had by the 350 campers each session. I edited during breakfast, shot two periods, edited and posted the next period, spent lunch working on Instagram and Twitter, and then, after rest hour, the cycle began again.
This was my life and I was, weirdly enough, perfectly content with it.
I realized that I was capable of achieving things that I had thought were impossible. This was my chance to prove myself as an individual and as a photographer. I developed the confidence to walk to the middle of the basketball court during all-camp assembly to snap a picture of campers pouring water over a counselor because of a lost bet. I was capable of shooting all day and night until my fingers went numb. I could easily make deadlines that previously gave me anxiety.
In my six years at Camp Cody, from camper to Counselor-in-Training and then Junior Counselor, I have grown from a naive, shy girl to a strong, influential and confident counselor with problem-solving skills and a can-do attitude. Camp Cody’s supportive family helped me become the young woman I am today, and I am overjoyed to be joining them again in the Summer of 2015. Going back to school in the fall, I transitioned from being a member of the Yearbook editorial staff to becoming the head Editor and Photographer. I began producing all of the videos for student events and announcements, and I became a manager for both the Boys Varsity Soccer and Hockey teams, taking their game photos and films. My experience at Camp Cody gave me the confidence and perseverance to pursue my goals and overcome my fears of failing, while allowing me to make the often difficult transition from a life free of responsibilities. I started as an insecure, fun-loving camper, and became an adult, a trusted, competent counselor.
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