The Benefits of A CIT Summer To Remember


As parents we are tasked with raising our children to leave us, and to leave us well. From the moment they are born we begin our journey of giving them one of the greatest gifts they will ever receive—independence. It’s not an easy task, for we want to hold on so tightly. How we go about preparing for this inevitable independence varies widely of course. It’s a deeply personal journey that evolves over time as we become better acquainted with our children and their needs.

For me, I always knew I’d only have one child, and I was judged harshly for that decision by many. But others’ opinions mattered not and I promised myself, and my daughter, that while I would protect her fiercely, I would also let her bloom and experience life as best she could when she was ready. I’ve been told that it is a more difficult to let go as the parent of an only child, which may be true, but it hasn’t deterred either one of us from that path.

When Haley was little she did not want to be around other children much—that was solely her choice.  I arranged the obligatory play dates, the Brownie and Girl Scout meetings, the team sport tryouts—all of which she dutifully undertook but never loved. Haley was a solitary child and she did things on her terms. She would resist something with all her might and then one day make a decision to go big. That is how Camp Carysbrook came into our lives.

She decided it was time to attend a summer camp, one that specifically included horseback riding lessons. She did the research and decided for herself that a camp that stressed the importance of going back to a more simple time, that did not emulate a luxury hotel, that was specifically for girls and their empowerment, that stressed leadership and loyalty and kindness, and that prepared girls for lives as strong, accomplished young women was Camp Carysbrook.

Each year at camp she stayed a little longer, and I had to say goodbye for a longer period of time and communicate via written letters only. Each year she gained more confidence, met more people, built stronger bonds with both staff and campers, and earned larger leadership roles. Camp Carysbrook recognized her honor and integrity, and now if she ever feels down or overwhelmed, she remembers the promises she made to herself and to others and becomes emboldened.

Most recently this past summer, as a 16-year-old counselor-in-training (CIT), one of only 10 girls selected for this rigorous program, Haley was excited to take on the numerous duties and leadership roles involved in learning how to be a counselor. Did she have some doubts? Sure, especially when she heard her non-camp friends talking about the amazing vacations they would take, the endless hours they would spend sleeping until noon, the electronics they would be able to access, and the carefree times they would enjoy with no schedule in sight. She would have none of that.

But what she has now is sisters for life. She has skills and coping mechanisms that will carry her always. She has the ability to lead and to inspire. She has confidence and poise. She has an understanding of what it means to not always succeed but to keep trying. She has the desire and willingness to work hard.  And she has independence, most recently demonstrated by a solo trip she took to Germany for a week.

Camp Carysbrook is a gift we give our daughters and we all reap the benefits…

by Pamela Lessard, Parent

All I Needed to Know I Learned as a WIT


by Tori Cook, WIT 2016

Coming back for WIT year (Worker-In-Training) was a decision that I struggled with. Being a WIT is not something you just decide to do on a whim. It’s a significant time commitment, at a time in life when time is hard to find with college applications, internships, service, clubs, and sports. Most of my friends didn’t understand my decision to go to camp when I could be interning at NASA or earning more money or going to the beach or applying to colleges like they were. However, I’m so glad I decided to be a WIT because I got so much closer with my fellow WITs, I learned professional and interpersonal skills, and I had an unforgettable experience.

Coming back as a WIT, I felt extremely nervous and extremely excited. I was nervous because I was going into the program as a 16 year old, and I didn’t know if the campers and my fellow counselors would take me seriously. I was also nervous because I had no experience as a counselor and I was always asking questions. I was excited because I had most of the tools from CIT year and I would finally be able to use them.



Whether it’s rain, campers, or equipment, something unexpected almost always complicates your well-laid plans. In facing unexpected challenges, like a thunderstorm that terrifies campers or trying to plan a camp-wide game of kickball with only two balls, I learned to roll with the punches and adapt to changing situations. While it’s always good to have a backup plan, it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality. Being able to quickly and calmly change plans is a great skill to have at camp and in life.

Strength in Diversity

My co-counselor Lena, who was from Germany, and I were very different. At first, the language and cultural divides made it difficult for us to work together. However, I believe that differences should be viewed as an asset instead of a setback. Inclusion is what makes Carysbrook so special. When we work with others that are different than us, we learn so much. Being so different than Lena meant that we thought differently. We each had different ideas and different ways to solve a problem. This proved to be extremely beneficial in our cabin, and I’m so glad I got to work with her. It’s easy to let differences divide you, but WIT year taught me how important it is to let differences unite you.


One of the ways I changed between my CIT year and my WIT year is I became much more accountable. As a CIT I was always working in a group, whether it was on Banquet or our service project, and responsibility was shared. I always did my part, but I never really understood what it meant to be accountable until I got to WIT year and I was on my own. Suddenly I had to be responsible for two activities, six campers, and a service project. I learned not only how to do what was expected of me, but to take responsibility and find a solution when I couldn’t.

Camp is for the campers

At face value, this seems obvious. Camp is all about the campers. What I discovered in my year as a WIT is that creating fun for the campers ends up being the most fun of all.

Transitioning from CIT summer to WIT summer is interesting because it’s not what you expect at all. From CIT year, I knew all the buzzwords: engagement, awareness, communication, collaboration, camp is for the campers, etc., but WIT year helped me apply them. If CIT year was learning to speak Spanish, WIT year was living in Spain.

The CIT program was just what I needed to be confident in my WIT year, but still left so much room for growth. At a time of transition in my life, my WIT experience was exactly what I needed. I took away so many lessons from my WIT experience, ones that I am able to use even outside the camp community. The flexibility, accountability, communication, and empathy I learned at camp will help me for the rest of my life. All CITs need to come back for their WIT year to truly understand what camp really means, and to gain skills that will serve them long after they leave the 200 acre woods.