In my small central Maine community, Lake George is a local treasure.

The administrators of this park, dedicated to serving the area, encourage outdoor activities such as snowshoeing, hiking, fishing and swimming that allow families to get active together.

As a child, I treasured hot summer days at the lake, and as I grew older I was given the opportunity to spend my summers working as a camp counselor and lifeguard at Camp Podooc, Lake George’s summer camp for children.

Though I’ve had several different volunteer and paid work experiences in the past few years, the hands-on nature of my work at Podooc resulted in rewards that I will always remember.

As a low-cost way for working parents to keep children occupied during summer vacation, Camp Podooc becomes a haven for children in the community.

As a counselor at Podooc, I have been able to help encourage these kids to stretch their boundaries and discover new passions. Whether it be drama, sports and games, art, nature or swim time, every child excels at something, and it is truly special to see a child’s self-confidence grow as he or she finds his niche.

Ultimately, the time I spend nurturing the children’s personal growth is why I love my time at this camp. By spending time calmly and attentively listening to a child’s interests, a simple but critical need is fulfilled.

I watch children walk away from two weeks of Podooc with new friends, new interests and a new sense of self-worth.

For me, like for everyone who works at the camp, this is the real reward.

Lake George has been an integral part of this community for decades, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to support children the way I was supported.

Charlotte Johnstone, senior

Skowhegan Area High School

Skowhegan

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