Korean Camp 2018
I have extended family in Michigan and they introduced me to Sae Jong Camp when I was thirteen. It’s a week long Summer Camp for Korean-Americans by the beautiful Lake Higgins. After my first year, I was hooked and came back every Summer after. We recruited the rest of the family, and soon Sae Jong Camp became a mini-family reunion for the Chung cousins.
This Summer, I was a counselor for the first time. I’d always wanted to be a counselor, and luckily my schedule allowed me to do so. I had four 8-10-year-old girls in my cabin. I taught Korean language and culture to thirteen ~9-year-olds (To every Californian Korean who told me that my own Korean is weak sauce, the standard is lower for non-Californians, okay???). And I taught Photography to 12 bright young artists.
Listening to my girls get in a circle and share “deepest darkest secrets” was such a highlight. Most of their most embarrassing stories involved urinating their pants. Oh, simpler times. I genuinely love children, and getting an opportunity to love on them (but also give them back to their parents after a week lol) was such a joy.
Some takeaways from this week were this:
1. Look for opportunities to serve: I believe that we have a responsibility to support others going through what we’ve gone through. You have something to contribute to everyone you meet (and vice versa). Whether that’s teaching a technical skill (like the Korean alphabet) or using your authority to encourage inclusivity or just being a role model, I believe the best way to build a healthy love for life is to provide value to your community.
2. Love sincerely: You get what you give. Whenever you invest your time into something, you owe it to everyone you’re not with and to all the projects you’re not working on to be truly involved. Being “all in” is vulnerable and requires a lot of effort, but life is so much more fulfilling when you are.
3. Believe in Others: I hate when we underestimate and give up on other people. Especially if those people are children. Imagine how much more others could accomplish if you didn’t decide their limits for them. Given support and patience, I believe people are rarely too dumb, inexperienced, or awful to handle something.
Don’t condemn people (Especially don’t condemn kids when you’re an adult, jeez) as “bad.” Listen to them, ask lots of questions so you can understand them, and love them. You can have an effect on people you meet if you approach others with an open mind and heart.
For more information about the Sae Jong Camp, check out their website here