Bennet Stuffel-STEP-Camp Starlight

Bennet Stuffel

STEP Reflection

December 9, 2015

My STEP Experiment

My STEP experiment, was one in the area of leadership. I set off to Camp Starlight, a summer camp in Starlight Pennsylvania. I spent my first few weeks working as part of a crew to prepare the camp grounds doing everything from simply mowing a lawn to building brand new decks for lodging. After a few weeks, the kids arrived and my second job as camo counselor began. For that job, I spent my days going activity to activity, personally in charge of 10 kids in my bunk. We spent our days doing anything from swimming, waterskiing, to rock-climbing.

My time at Starlight transformed me in many ways I was not anticipating before the start of this project. I arrived at camp, fully prepared to meet some counselors that were like me, however, what I found was something completely different. I met over 120 other camp counselors from places such as Australia, England, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, and many other places all across the world. I gained insight about others that I didn’t have before my time at camp. I had the idea that people in other countries were not like me at all. However what I encountered was mothing like I expected. Although we were different in many ways, we were more alike than I thought; that people all across the world are just the same as us. I made friends in so many countries that I feel as though I can travel the world and always have a place to stay and friends to show me around. The most important piece of information I gained is that the world, no matter what you do or where you go, is about people and about the relationships we form.

My time at Starlight and the transformations that have affected me cannot be narrowed down to a single moment rather, the experience as a whole is what changed me. Much the same, it was not simply one person who changed my life, but the multitudes of people that I met and worked with throughout the summer. The first people that changed my life were the ones that I spent the most time with, my bunk. We were Bunk 12, a bunk of 10 sixth graders and 3 counselors crammed together in a very tight, very hot wooden bunk in the middle of the woods. The kids that I met were some of the most amazing people that I have ever been lucky enough to spend time with. As a sibling, I am both a big and little brother, so I know what kind of affect these roles can have on the other. As I entered the summer, I didn’t quite think that I would form such an attachment to a group of kids from some area and circumstances much different from myself. However, as the summer went by, and I spend every day with these children, they grew to be like little brothers to me and I was a big brother to them. After only a week or so I found myself ecstatic for each and every accomplishments my kids made and I was devastated after some shortfall they would have. We became so close that saying goodbye was something that was so emotional not only for me, but for every camper and counselor that there were tears in the eyes of almost every camper and counselors.

The second most important people that made an impact in my life, were my “bosses” also known as the Division Leaders, Head Counselors, and the owners of the camp. At this point in my life, I’m not quite sure that I know exactly what I want to do with my life. My immediate bosses at camp all come from different backgrounds, having different jobs, at different stages of their lives. It was really enlightening and reassuring that all of these people, in different places can find their way in life. What I liked most about what the stories of how my bosses came to be where they are is that they were not much different from myself. What I realized is that I don’t really have to be certain about my future right now, it’s okay if I’m still finding my way and its okay that there is a lot still unknown. The only thing that matters is that while I’m trying to find my way, I keep in mind that it’s not all about where I end up, but how I do things along the way, and take every opportunity to live a life I’ll be proud of in the end.

The last and most important part of what makes Camp Starlight such a magical place, is the staff members. I met so many people that have changes my life completely. I went into camp with the expectation of making one or two good pals for the summer to make it a fun time. But, what I left with, is friendships that will last a lifetime. I can’t really put it into words the impact of the relationships I created. These people I met, gave me the push I needed to be myself fully and completely. While at camp, I was pulled out of my shell by my co-counselors, to just let myself loose and have fun. This is something that I feel has creeped into my everyday life. After coming back, I found myself more free than ever, more myself than I have ever been and that is something I will be forever grateful for. I feel so strongly that people in our everyday world do so much to fit in and to conform to the normal that they hide who they truly are.  Getting to spend day after day with friends that pull out the best in me, is something that I cannot be thankful enough for and is something that I will try to bring into my everyday life.

The changes that I have made in my life since this last summer at starlight are something extremely valuable to me on a day to day basis. To say it bluntly, I worry a lot less and have a much more stress free life. Without having to worry about what exactly I’m going to do in the future, or who am I trying to pretend to be for other people, I don’t have half the anxiety I had before this last summer. Also, I know now that people in my life can have an impact on my life, no matter what they look like, can surprise me and change my life. Just the same, I know that I have the ability to change the lives of others just as equally. Life is all about people. That is the biggest thing that I could have ever taken away from any experience.  No matter where I am and life, I will always have the relationships that I forged over my life. And nothing should ever come before those relationships.