By Brianna Lu '19
For four years after I began my journey at Randolph, I spent my summers attending Randolph's art camp. I envied the camp counselors who had so much fun while spending their summers with children. Since the 2nd grade, my heart had been set on becoming a counselor who brought the fun to the party, laughing with kids, having the time of our lives. The summer between 8th and 9th grade, I had the opportunity to become a camp counselor for Randolph’s Mega Camp and my world was turned upside-down.
Mega Camps are extended, 5-hour sessions with themes that are part of the Summer Camp, which takes place during the whole month of June. Kindergartners through 4th graders come elated and bubbling with excitement.
Although the camp is run by Randolph, kids from Holy Spirit to Jones Valley gather to create fizzy-whizzy concoctions that foam all over the place in red, yellow and blue; make homemade fidget spinners and even peg the counselors with giant beach balls.
Mrs. Wolfe is the Mega Camp Master. There is no other volunteer event where I’m greeted by shrieking children excited for camp with gigantic smiles, happy to see friends and spend the day learning.
The first day of camp has always been my favorite day of the whole summer. As I walk into the pitch-black room that is the Rhett Fine Arts Center, I’m overwhelmed with nostalgia. I’m grateful that this same room, which served as an auditorium for kindergarten holiday program through Middle School assemblies, plays, and dances, is now a place where 40 lucky campers have the chance to make their own memories. I am immediately greeted with the room’s own unique musk, a mixture of dried spit from band practices past and Fla•vor•ice popsicle juice.
There is never a time that energy is absent from the room.
To my right is the straight line of white tables with squares marked off in masking tape which serve as cubbies, and in the middle are round white tables supplied with just the right number of chairs and decorated with colorful bins — the same ones we had on our tables in Kindergarten that held our Ticonderoga pencils, Crayola crayons, and Elmer’s glue.
There is never a time that energy is absent from the room. It is a great comfort: the soft lights, high beams and cutouts in the walls add symmetry to the room and serve to make great spots for hiding from the present. The room presents itself as a place to escape time and holds countless opportunities. The blank canvas that it creates is readily available for anyone’s creation, from Spell Books to an endless army of robots created from recycled junk, to the empty stage awaiting a showstopping performance of Cinderella.
Each Monday, I’m overwhelmed with happiness because I can always count on seeing familiar faces that are painted with 10 different types of joy. Some might say that Mondays are the worst day of the week, but at Mega Camp, Mondays are like Halloween night. The RFAC is turned into a carnival and for the first hour of camp, all the campers get to play carnival games—the cheese and the fishing game are huge favorites.
Some might say that Mondays are the worst day of the week, but at Mega Camp, Mondays are like Halloween night.
I am constantly fascinated, relieved, and surprised each time I walk into the RFAC awaiting the new experience I might have. I am equally grateful that the campers also feel the same way. I cannot remember how many times I have been asked, “So, what are we doing today?” by eager campers ready to throw themselves into the activity. It brings a smile to my face when I see the curiosity painted on their faces like a bright yellow light bulb, whether it is guessing what the next activity is or trying to guess what is up in the blue painted balcony with the name “RANDOLPH” painted in white alongside the pillars of the School's mission: “Seeking Truth, Building Character, Nurturing All,” constantly reminding me of my own curiosity at that age.
I find myself coming back and volunteering each year hoping for more: more friends, more fun, and more felicity. It always lifts my heart when a camper spots me in the community. I’m greeted with the same energy as that of the first day of camp by energetic hugs from campers who vividly remember sharing lunch with their friends while watching the Harry Potter series, enjoying the birthday spotlight, or just getting elbow-deep in soap bubbles. The occasional appearance of the game “Pass the Platypus” to the song, “It’s Raining Tacos,” a fun spin on Hot Potato, always creates an indescribable influx of energy that is sure to leave a lasting impression of a summer well spent.
The remnants of a successful Mega Camp year are marked by the disarray of the room, now littered with colored Crayola markers missing caps, oil pastels broken in half, posters of Star Wars characters or incredible inventions: the products of a summer full of learning and endless happiness. Most importantly, the true remnant of Mega Camp will have you wondering what excitement next year’s edition will bring, followed by the anguish of leaving behind the camaraderie built between both campers and counselors.
Volunteering has had a great effect on my life, causing me to take a step back and be grateful for the experiences I’ve had.
Volunteering has had a great effect on my life, causing me to take a step back and be grateful for the experiences I’ve had. Mrs. Wolfe and her extravagant Mega Camps in the RFAC have created a whole new meaning to my way of life. The sight of herds of children with big, grinning faces and leading practice out on the track has me constantly thinking about the past Mega Camps and new adventures we’ll encounter next year. The RFAC has offered me a place to discover who I am and be grateful for new opportunities as a result of a truly amazing volunteer event.
Brianna wrote this piece for her AP Language and Composition class. She supplied most of the photos that accompany it..
This summer's Mega Camps include Escape, Grossolgy, Science, Shark Tank, and Super Mystery Spy Camp. There are lots of other courses as well, including cooking, art, band, ukelele, basketball, baseball, tennis, and robotics, all led by Randolph teachers and coaches. Click the button below to see full course listings and for online registration, and read this post for more information on the Mega Camps being offered for the 5-10 and 10-14 age bands.