Sunday, September 9, 2007

the state of being VC

"It's just a camp." Well, yes. But for those who for one reason or another found themselves the leader-supervisor of a dozen or so young people and head coordinator and inspirer of between 40 and 45 was generally a life-changing and frequently a life-making experience. I can't tell you how many people, years after being VC, have told me it was that experience--that flat-out demand, that achievement of balance, that hands-on administration, that combination of nuanced skills--that made them the great [fill in blank: teacher, businessperson, medical doctor, community organizer, parent, innovator...] that they are today.

On the final day of camp this summer, I joined the end of a session in which a VC (Chrissy) was evaluating a counselor (Laurie) and asked Chrissy about the role of the VC, how it felt. We also, as you'll hear, talked about what it's like to come home, to leave the valley, after such an intense experience. Here are several minutes of that recording.

During the summer of 1999, the VCs designed a Tshirt for themselves. Jody Ketcham was there taking photos for the book she and I did together, Finding the Way Back, and caught this shot of a VC wearing one of these. The shirt reads:

Village Chief \vil aj cheef\ n: An overworked, underpaid, camp official expected to be everything to everyone, including, but not limited to, Counselor, Mediator, Motivator, Programmer, Administrator, Police Officer, Caretaker, and Supervisor, all while maintaining good working relationships with parents, campers, counselors and support staff, and without whom any summer camp would struggle to function adequately.

To the above came this response a little later:

"It finally sunk in during my weekly trip to your blog why I love it so completely eliminates the boundaries of time. One story about modern-day my son's Frost Valley...and the next entry I'm back in the late 70's...oh, to be 20 again! And through the blog with personal stories and doesn't seem long ago or far away any more. And even more importantly, it reminds me of how much it still is alive in me, so big a part of me. This was especially true in the audio and story of the VC's. It's no coincidence that I took to the role of Chief Medical Resident fairly easily ... at Presbyterian Hospital 1988-89. Basically the same skill set as being a Frost Valley VC...scheduling the Residents, including on call (much less fun than CQ), mediating the conflicts between staff, setting up the educational experiences for the staff all the while trying to provide the best care possible of those entrusted to us. Or maybe it was just the water in Lenape in '71 as your other piece suggested."--Lee Fleischer