The Unicorn tribe was dredging through the river to finally meet the Panther Tribe after hours (or rather minutes) of discussion as a sign of a peace treaty. With Crawfish and Minos as their trusty steeds, the tribe crossed the river or rather the creek in Coopersmith Park located in West Goshen Township. Head Counselor Matt Krykew watches as the peace treaty occurs, while presiding over necklace making and the U.S. Soccer World Cup. Welcome to your average summer day in the life of head counselor Matt Krykew.
Being a camp counselor since 2003 Matt has been through the various ranks of being a counselor. As head counselor Matt’s job is to oversee all of the various groups of daily activities and he finds that he feels as much value being head counselor as he did as a junior counselor leading the individual activities.
Matt is currently a teacher at Avon Grove intermediate school and has taught 5th grade for 11 years now. Although he loves teaching he finds that being a camp counselor is much different.
“Summer camp is a different sort of fun with a lot of different opportunities for the kids and is really more about nurturing the children but also keeping them safe.You get to have fun without a lot of the same rules as in school.”
At West Goshen Summer Recreation camp the children have the choice to plan out their day. In the morning there is a parents drop off at the top of the hill where counselors will check the campers in. There are other days planned by Matt and the counselors such as water day, color day and theme day. The campers are able to choose whichever activity they like ranging from games and crafts such as creating necklaces with foam stickers, World Cup Soccer Games, Dodgeball, or playing by the creek.
“Throughout the day we pay attention to where the planned activities are winding down and then we start activities based on that such as a nature walk.” By the time a nature walk is over, the other activities will have ended and the 9:00 am to 12:00 pm day full of fun is over.
With 120 kids signed up and around 80 on average per day, there are 12 counselors to lead the way. West Goshen’s summer recreation camp is so popular that they sell out of registration each year and start a waiting list. There are many reasons why the West Goshen Summer Recreation camp is so popular but Matt mainly points to the ‘legacy’ of the camp.
“There is a connection to the park, kids, and families to the point where kids that graduate to the teen camp want to come back and work at the park that they attended camp at. A lot of the counselors started as campers and it becomes almost a legacy.”
The popularity of the camp also is due to the many benefits that the children receive from it. A lot of campers get the opportunity to build new relationships with children that they wouldn’t have known before as the camp includes students from at least three different west chester schools and private and parochial schools. In addition, they are learning the value of sportsmanship, collaboration, problem solving, and a lot of creativity.
From using their imagination by the creek, to water games, and winning sportsmanship award of the day, the Summer Recreation Camp has so many benefits for all of those involved. As head counselor Matt finds it an extremely rewarding job. “Our job is mostly paying attention and lending a hand when needed, but by themselves the campers do some pretty amazing things.”