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For the Love of Learning: What I Learned From My Campers

By Brianna Dioses
Signal Contributor

Cheers to those of you who were a camp counselor this summer! And if I had to guess, you also probably were reading up on different classroom management styles or Pinterest surfing for hours to find the perfect activity to do with your campers. Maybe some of you even took classes at your community college and were exhausted thinking about how you were going to entertain your campers while studying for that huge final coming up. Trust me, I can relate. Even after all the chaos, you still got back to our lovely campus and sat for hours talking to your friends about your favorite campers and sharing adorable drawings of stick figures.

This summer was the first time I had ever worked with first-graders and I can honestly say that the students surpassed the teacher. I had the privilege of feeling like I was a superstar, and that is all due to my first grade loves.

Here are ten things I learned from working with some of the most amazing 6- and 7-year-old humans:

  1. Teeth can—and will—come out at any time, no matter what’s going on. No matter where or when, if you pull and twist hard enough you’ll lose your tooth. Sometimes these tiny white things can get messy but once they come out, there’s no better feeling. Teeth are sensitive things, so taking care of them is very important. As college students, this still applies. Brush your teeth twice daily, and if you feel something is wrong, see your dentist!
  2. You’re never too old for a good joke or riddle. Almost every first-grader I got to work with had a joke or riddle up their sleeve. And to my amazement, they always got the answers to my riddles and jokes, too! Jokes have no age limit, no matter how corny they are.
  3. Manners are ALWAYS important. “Please” and “thank you” go a very long way, and I think sometimes everyone can use a reminder of that. This could not be more applicable to all age groups. Remember to say hi to the Building Assistants you see in your dorms. They clean up after you and they deserve some love. This also applies to our amazing Eick workers. Be kind.
  4. It’s okay to make mistakes. No one is perfect, and kids will be kids. So some days they will run into each other, piggyback on each other down the hallway, and just ignore you when you remind them to keep their hands to themselves. That just means there’s room to grow and they will learn. Same goes for us college students. That essay you can sense is just not what the professor wants? Learn from it. The bad grades will not matter 10 years from now. As long as you learn from it, everything is worth something.
  5. Emotions and feelings matter! What seems like something little may not be to someone else, everyone copes in different ways and should be allowed to do so. It’s okay to cry sometimes, and it’s okay to miss Mom and Dad even when you’re heading into your junior year of college.
  6. Smiling takes little effort and makes a big impact. When your first-graders look as though they woke up at 6 a.m., haven’t eaten breakfast, and look as if one more thing goes wrong they’re going to cry—your smile can be what changes their day around. Plus, it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown anyways.
  7. Always find the time to be silly. There is never enough time in the day and life is all too short anyway, so be silly. Learn a new dance, sew a cape, wear a chicken hat even. Just make sure you find the time to find the fun! Work hard, play hard.
  8. You are the only you that exists; don’t try to be like anyone else. Although this is easier when you’re young, my first-graders taught me it isn’t that hard to do when you’re older if you have the right attitude. Everyone is unique and that uniqueness should always be celebrated. You can learn a lot from what is different than you. We live on a campus that has a ton of variety. Look around you and ask the people you pass everyday where they came from or what they are aspiring to be in life. People will surprise you. College is a great time to find yourself; just make sure you are finding yourself, not copying someone you look up to.
  9. You should never end your day clean. All the fun days always end with dirt on your shoes and under your fingernails. Some days you may even be lucky enough to have pie on your face and in your hair. Your shower can wait. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big fan of hand sanitizer and soap and water, but if you get a little dirt on your shoes, it is usually a sign of a great day.
  10. Everyone has the capacity to love and make someone’s day, be someone that makes everyone feel significant. Seeing my first graders get excited when I stood before them every morning and afternoon made me feel such great love. I felt like an absolute superstar and so special to be their point person. My first-graders taught me a greater appreciation for people around me and I can’t think of another grade I would have rather worked with as a counselor. Love always wins! <3

Brianna Dioses is an Early Childhood Urban Education and Women and Gender Studies major at the College.



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