I had the pleasure of being an OTR (On the Road) Counselor during the summer of 2018 – aka, ‘The Best Summer Ever.’
What could be better than taking a group of fantastic and interesting youth on daily excursions and different hiking spots each week all around Colorado? Not much. OTR is an exciting program because each week holds a different adventure. The year-round staff work hard on their connections with the campers and they’re experts at getting great camping spots and scheduling exciting activities for the OTR crew.
I joined Camp Shai because Molly Cohn, the Assistant Director of Youth Services, and I lived in Peru together for two years and then moved to Colorado. She knew there was an opening at Camp Shai for an OTR Counselor and also knew that the position fit me perfectly. I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the Camp Shai community for a summer.
My favorite memories as an OTR counselor include going hiking and camping, biking in Fort Collins, rafting, riding the Mind Eraser with campers for our first time at Elitch Gardens, Iron Chef Challenge, going stand-up paddle boarding, making BAGELS, going to Ranch Camp and participating in their activities, doing scavenger hunts in museums, racing kids in the pool, and giving kids paper plate awards.
While we were camping outside of Winter Park, the campers decided to put on a talent show at night. Some created skits, others told jokes, and my co-counselor and I had many belly laughs throughout the show. This is one of my fondest memories after a day hike and putting our feet in a pond that we found along the way. The beauty of OTR is that you can have certain things planned for the day, but sometimes the road takes you down another path. Sometimes there is extra time to play gaga ball or jump in the pool or charades! I also enjoyed our van rides where campers would request their (appropriate lyrics) favorite songs and sing along.
OTR is an amazing opportunity for youth to gain confidence, learn better communication skills with peers and push their comfort zone slightly in the outdoors! I watched many campers change throughout the summer. Shy to outgoing, unwilling to hike or sleep in a tent to having the best time at the camp-outs. I believe sending your child to OTR gives them an opportunity to learn new life skills everyday in a safe space. I also think camp is an ideal education outlet where youth can step away from their smart-devices and have fun interactions with a new group, all while seeing new things.
Camp Shai On the Road made my summer the best along with the campers who were on our adventures. I am certain it will do the same for your camper.
Thank you, Jeannie, for sharing your OTR experience with us! We absolutely cannot wait for summer––if only we could all join Camp Shai On the Road.