I’m a Tulsa Kid: Gillian McKnight, Jenks Middle School
Fourteen-year-old Gillian McKnight has spent several childhood summers at Tulsa’s Camp Loughridge. Her love of the camp prompted her to sign up to be a Counselor In Training (CIT) as soon as she met the age requirement. Being a CIT gives young people an opportunity to gain work experience while transitioning into full-fledged camp counselors.
TK: How long have you been a camper at Camp Loughridge?
Gillian: I was in regular day camp from when I was 8 until I was 11. Once I was 12, I was old enough to go to the adventure camp where you can spend the night one night in the week. It was a great experience and made Camp Loughridge even more fun. Most summers, I attend Camp Loughridge anywhere from 3-5 weeks during the summer.
TK: What made you want to become a Counselor In Training (CIT)?
Gillian: I first wanted to become a CIT because of the leadership. As a leader, I can help people to gain confidence and trust. I also want to become a CIT because I can help new campers have the same great experience I had when I was a camper. Being a CIT can also help ensure that I will have a job over the summer in high school and college, which would be a good way to get a break from the stress of school.
TK: Can you tell me what being a CIT involves?
Gillian: Being a CIT requires being at the camp anywhere from five to 10 hours a day depending on the type of camp, and at some camps even overnight. You have to be committed and have a great attitude even if you are not having the best day. You would want to have a general knowledge of different and common things such as swimming, canoeing, or rock climbing. You also have to have a good work ethic. As a CIT, you may not get to do the super fun things counselors do right away and instead be assigned to working jobs such as kitchen staff or cleanup, but eventually you will get there. And who knows? You might just love being on the kitchen staff or cleanup!
TK: What are you most excited about when you think of being a counselor?
Gillian: When I think of being a counselor, I think of being a leader. I think of being someone people can look up to, or getting to have the best summer ever and spend it all at camp. You can help your campers become the best versions of themselves and to learn how to help others. You can also help them have the best experiences of their lives. How would you feel if you could say that you were responsible for teaching a kid how to shoot a bow and arrow as their camp counselor and then eventually they go on to being an Olympic archer? I know I would feel very accomplished, and that I did my job.
TK: What set of skills do you think you need to be a CIT?
Gillian: You need to have a great attitude, show leadership, and most importantly, have fun all the time! You also have to have responsibility and courage. You could potentially do anything at camp!
TK: What are your interests and how will they influence who you are as a counselor?
Gillian: My interests at school are science, guard, archery and band. I am on my school’s archery team and have competed at state, and I am 2nd chair flute in the Jenks eighth grade band. I enjoy being with friends and learning new things every day. All of these can help me as a counselor. By being on the archery team, I can help kids with technique and give them self-confidence. I am also bilingual. I am the vice president of the National Spanish Honor Society, and I speak fluent Spanish. This could also help me as a counselor by being a translator, which would allow more people to attend the camp that speak different languages, knowing that they would have an adult figure to talk to and to help them.
TK: What are your future plans?
Gillian: I plan in the future to attend medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon. I hope to continue playing the piano and flute and do guard and archery all through high school and maybe even beyond that. I hope to be in the medical field because I have a love for helping others. I want to also continue Spanish and hopefully pick up Latin in high school in order to help me in the medical field.