TESTIMONIAL: Danielle Hopkins

In 2007, I found myself in Family Camp Puerto tired and disorientated among a swarm of blue and white T-shirts. I wasn’t even sure I was actually going to turn up that day until something which to this day I can’t explain jolted me out of my hammock on a sunny rooftop in Cadiz. A voice in my head said “you really need to go and do this” job. And so I made the short train journey across the bay to start my adventure.

Half way through staff training week, I was wondering why I listened to that stupid little voice inside my head. Oh how very tired and overwhelmed I was.  This was my first real TEFL teaching job you see, I just kept thinking that these all singing, all dancing people around me were nuts. Guess what? They were and they still are. It’s just that now I’m one of them.

Summer camp is the craziest most intense experience that most people will go through in their entire life. For staff and campers.  It’s a rollercoaster ride that takes you through the most emotional highs and lows imaginable. You simply can’t avoid learning so much about yourself. Who you are and what you are capable of. That goes for the kids too.

For me, summer camp taught me primarily about compassion. No matter how tired or busy I was, I would never hesitate in helping a camper or another staff member. Putting someone else’s needs above your own comes naturally on camp after a while.  When you are surrounded by other staff members who do the same it turns into something magical.  TECS taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to. The impossible, the ridiculous, the unthinkable. I did them all, and over the summers I excelled as a person in every possible way.

As I moved through the ranks on summer camp, each year I learned more about myself and other people. Each year I felt more grateful for my experiences and the trust that was given to me to do a good job in these positions.  It felt good to impart experience and knowledge that I had gathered over the summers and watch more green members of staff grow and flourish as I had.

My final year as a camp director was the cherry on my TECS cake.  On camp I made friends for life and found a confidence in myself that allows me to be the person I am today.  If you get the chance to work on summer camp, open your mind and your heart and get ready for the ride.

 – Danielle Hopkins

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