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Today’s post is from a guest writer, one of our counselors, Rita Laychcok. Rita was an “original” staff member in 2018 and has worked at Somerset for the past two summers. Recently, Rita graduated from Temple Univeristy with a degree in Kinesiology, and will be returning this summer as the Unit Leader for Deer Trail (campers finishing 5th and 6th grade).

In a little more than 100 days, I’ll be heading back to Maine for my third summer at Somerset, and there are a million and one reasons to go back. Escaping the humid Philadelphia summers, spending almost two months on a beautiful lake, and being reunited with co-counselors who have become very close friends are just a few of those reasons. But the most important reason that brings me back to Somerset each year is the campers.

Flashback to 2018 when I found out that I would be a cabin counselor for a group of girls who had just finished fourth grade. Needless to say, I was a little anxious! Would they be homesick? Would they think I was trying too hard? What do soon to be fifth graders talk about? Fortunately, when they arrived, all of those nerves disappeared. They were such an amazingly kind and spirited group of girls, and despite being a little nervous, they were ready for camp!

When the second summer came around, I was so excited to see my bunk again. They came back not only having grown physically, but also with greater confidence. They were Somerset originals, and proud of it, and helped the newer campers figure out the ins and outs of camp. They gracefully adjusted to changes from the year prior and made their second summer just as special as the first, tackling so many new challenges. Whether it was giving water skiing another chance, participating in the gymnastics show, or pitching in the first-ever intercamp softball game, each girl in my bunk accomplished things that she hadn’t even considered during that first summer. In fact, four of them stayed for the Full Somer, and I was SO proud of them for taking that step. In all of their growing and learning at camp, they also taught me a lot too. They taught me to be patient and to always cheer on your friends. They also taught me how to quickly braid five girls’ hair before the call for breakfast, and which songs from Hamilton are the best (hint: it’s pretty much all of them).

I know I am not the only counselor who is so eager to see what her bunk will accomplish this upcoming summer. We cannot wait to hear about the school year and what new activities our girls plan to try at camp. I know my girls will have grown a lot during the offseason, and I can’t wait to see how they’ll grow every day in SOMER ‘20.

Shout out to my Colts turned Crimson Stags turned whichever bunk they’ll be in next!

-Rita Laychock