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Common App Essay Example #2

Prompt #4: Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

The 90-degree summer heat beat down on my shoulders, but that was the least of my problems. A six-year old boy had just disrupted a yellow jacket nest by the lake and children were getting stung left and right. If it had been any other summer I would have sat back and let an adult take care of the problem, but as the only camp counselor in the vicinity, I was suddenly the closest grown up around. Luckily, the last month at camp had already taught me several essential skills to handle this situation effectively, including acting decisively, keeping others calm, and maintaining a positive attitude.

Just two weeks earlier, my campers and I arrived at the outdoor art class right on schedule. To my horror, however, the art teacher was running late and I now had 45 minutes to fill on my own. That may not sound like a long time to some people, but when you’re trying to entertain 12 little boys on your own, it can feel like a lifetime. Rather than losing control of the situation and letting the kids run amok, I quickly pulled together a plan. We started with a nature scavenger hunt followed by some free form art. I set out paint, glue, glitter, feathers, and other supplies and let them have at it with the items they had collected in the woods. A quick decision led to a morning full of imaginative play.

By the time afternoon rolled around at camp each day, I usually saw one of two scenarios: worn down campers ready to go home, or wound up campers with energy to burn. One day, the latter scenario was compounded by a late day rain shower. Indoor space was limited, and several groups of kids were crammed into a small aerobics studio. Believe it or not, the best solution to this problem was a friendly game of camper vs. counselor dodge ball. The kids loved the camaraderie of ganging up on their counselors and they got to run off that extra stamina with a focused physical activity. This taught me that sometimes the best way to calm kids down is to actually embrace their energy.

As a camp counselor, a positive attitude is practically a job requirement. No matter how hot the day or how tired the kids, I helped them keep up their spirits by implementing a simple rule: if we’re walking to an activity, then we’re also singing. We went on a lot of bear hunts and yelled quite a few “boom chick-a booms,” all of which helped the kids forget about the long trek across the field to archery and instead get lost in song. This technique also helped them focus on walking to their destination, resulting in less chiding from me about staying in line.

These three events prepared me for the ultimate challenge: a mass bee sting of my troupe where at least half of my children got stung. I quickly instructed my campers to find their respective buddies and head straight to the bus at the top of the hill. From there, I had the driver contact the camp office to get the nurse ready for our arrival. Although the lake was just a five minute drive from the main camp, I filled the time with my silliest songs to distract the kids from their stings. There were fortunately no major reactions and the camp director even allowed for a special treat of ice cream from the camp kitchen to soothe the situation. While that day was one of my scariest as a camp counselor, I also found it to be one of the most successful and rewarding days as well. In many ways, it felt like a rite of passage into adulthood as a true caretaker rather than a child.