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My experience as a summer camp instructor

By Bruna Pacheco
On September 13, 2019

Photo by Bruna Pacheco

During the summer of 2019, I worked as a summer camp tennis instructor for the first time in upstate New York. Last spring, I was offered the opportunity to work not only as a tennis instructor but as a counselor as well in a few camps. But I ended up not taking the job.

It was definitely a different but great experience. I’m from Brazil, and we don’t have summer camps like that back home. With that in mind, I was really excited to what I was going to come across with. 

If you’re also not familiar with summer camps like me, and the closest that you’ve ever heard or seen was through movies, here is a little bit of my experience over the summer.

I’m really glad that I was just a tennis instructor over the summer and not a counselor as well. It was an exhausting job; I don’t even want to imagine trying to tackle taking care of kids and teaching, no matter how much I love them and how amazing they all were.

Who would have thought that a job like that would’ve paid me in a much greater way than money ever could have (even though I didn’t get paid that much), with how much it impacted my life?

The food wasn’t the greatest, and neither was the location, even though it was located two hours away from New York City. However, the people around there made everything worth it.

The other tennis instructors were very nice people and I’m glad they spent the summer with me. I still talk to a few of them, I had gotten really close to others, and some of them I know I will never talk to again, but that is okay. To them, thank you for the great summer, I’ll never forget the memories!

Swan Lake, N.Y. was not a small town compared to Ottawa, or even to the state of Kansas. However, the fact that we had no way to leave camp, due to all of us being international instructors with no cars, made it feel like Ottawa after all. 

At camp, kids could choose between a variety of  activity options. As it turned out, a lot of them chose tennis — not because of the sport, but because of me.

They enjoyed being on the court with me, which made me rethink a lot of things in my life. I may be carrying the “retired college athlete” title with me, but I certainly can still contribute to the sport with all of the passion that I have.

After a couple of lessons with each kid, I already knew them well enough to realize if something happened to them or if they were sad, and that meant I would have to make extra jokes to try to change their moods. The best part was that it always worked, and they always left  with a smile on their faces. 

If coaching is the only way left for me to be on the tennis court, then I am embracing it in the best way I can.

Now, I’m back in Ottawa, the fall semester has started and it’s time to finish one last semester of undergraduate school. When  I graduate, I’ll be keeping the coaching path in mind for whatever happens next.


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