For the past eight years, Ada junior Shannon Dahlquist has spent her summers at YMCA Camp Jorn in Manitowish Waters, Wis., and this summer was not unlike any other.
While Dahlquist once again attended Camp Jorn, she took on a new responsibility this year.
“I became a camp counselor, because I wanted to return to this place that I became so closely bonded with when I was younger,” she said. “I wanted to give back to this camp that had served as my home away from home and help create that same special bond between the campers now, like my counselors had done for me.”
From camper to counselor, Dahlquist became the general counselor for the 10-week camp that serves as a daycare and co-ed residential day camp for children ages 7 to 16-years-old.
“The campers I was with all summer stayed a week at a time. We would live in the same cabin, eat meals together and do cabin activities together for the entire week,” Dahlquist said. “When those kids went home at the end of the week, I would have 24 hours off and then the next group of kids would show up and it would start all over again.”
Dahlquist said her time at Camp Jorn this summer was a big learning experience, but one she enjoyed every day she was there.
“I could not have found a more challenging, fun, or exhausting job then working at Camp Jorn,” she said.
Alongside Dahlquist was her best friend and fellow Chippewa Sam Johnson, a Grand Rapids junior. Johnson joined the camp staff for the opportunity to do something she wouldn’t normally do.
“I felt like this was the perfect time in my life to do something fun and for myself that didn’t necessarily have to do with my career path,” she said. “I knew that after this summer I would have to start getting into internships and other career oriented occupations, so I essentially had one last summer to go out and just do something fun and amazing, so I did.”
While Johnson had never attended the camp in previous years, that did not stop her from creating special bonds with the campers.
“When you spend two and a half months with the same people in such a concentrated situation, you start to develop some pretty meaningful relationships,” Johnson said.
Overall, Dahlquist said her experience at Camp Jorn was unforgettable.
“My experience was incredible,” she said. “I mean, really it was a combination of the perfect opportunity at the perfect time with an amazing group of unforgettable people that made this summer one I will always remember.”