This past week, I’ve settled into the day to day routine of camp. Facilitating a class is no longer a foreign concept, and while I’m far from perfect at it, I’m comfortable even alone. At this point, I’ve spent enough time with every single group that I have a solid idea of the dynamic of each, and I know a majority of the girls. Compared to the hectics of week 1 and the stress of week 2, this week has been very routine. One thing that has newly surfaced this week, however, is the number of roles that I play with these girls.
My title on paper is STEM facilitator, a role that implies authority and requires respect to be able to do well. Occasionally I question whether I am fulfilling this as much as some of my peers, but there was one example this past week that showed I really have earned these girls respect. I was helping to lead a group in soccer, and there were several girls who asked to sit on the sidelines instead of participating. I went over to them and had a conversation about why they were sitting out, without jumping to accusations, and then asked them to do an activity that fit both what I wanted and they wanted. When I walked away, they immediately got up and grabbed a soccer ball.
The role that I feel the most unqualified for is that of confidant, trusted adult. Several of the girls I’ve grown close to have shared stories of their home life, their social and emotional struggles, or effects of their mental illnesses. Every time this happens, I really appreciate their honesty and their openness, and I do my very best to help in whatever way I can. A lot of times, the best I can do is listen, and it pains me that I can almost never offer very constructive advice or truly empathize.
The most fulfilling of these roles is being a friend. It is when these bonds form that I feel the closest to the girls, and when I feel like my presence is truly helpful. These girls are little humans, and I truly do enjoy just spending time with them. This friend role was epitomized on Friday, at Disney. I spent the entire evening with three girls, long after the end of the official field trip, just walking around and going on rides. At the end of the night, they all gave me big hugs, and I went home happy.
Already, I feel the end of camp fast approaching. I know that these girls who I have taught, who I have listened to, who have become my friends, will be hard to say goodbye to. In the meantime, I plan on working to perfect these roles every day so I can give these girls all I can before I leave.