The Best Promise of All

By Mollie Berner

I’ve always said that being a camp counselor has taught me more than any class or internship ever will. For those of us who have experienced camp, be it for one, five, or fifteen summers, we know this to be true. It’s a certainty, a guarantee; a promise.

Almost every major lesson I’ve learned from childhood till now has stemmed from those huddled bunks and daily activities, rain or shine. You learn so much about yourself, others, and the world around you. There are folks from as close as your hometown to as far as the other side of the world, and from an early age, you learn how to be and how to do. It’s this intangible gift you receive from the place that we all, from the 60’s to the Skolnick years (shoutout Mom, Dad, Uncle Stacey & Uncle Jody!) to the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s (shoutout siblings and cousins!) to now (shoutout SIT’s 2016!) get to share. It’s an instant connection – an instant connection that lasts us forever.

So what happens when your time in the 18437 “runs out”? Does it ever? What do you think, alumni?

When the time came for me to graduate college, I went straight into my master’s program and delayed that frightful job hunt for just a tad longer. I got to go back to camp in the meantime, and was lucky to hold the leadership staff position of SIT Director this past summer. I was supervising the campers in which I was originally a SIT for back in 2010, when they were only sixth grade juniors! You could say they taught me everything I know, and that this summer, I was simply returning the favor. When they piled onto the buses at the conclusion of the summer, I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect at this next juncture of my life; all I knew is that I’d be taking every piece of camp with me that I could.

You see, I don’t think your time ever really runs out there. I think you get to take it with you wherever you go – as a certainty, a guarantee; a promise.

Which is why when I started my first full-time job at Boston Children’s Hospital just weeks later, I called upon every lesson I’d ever learned at camp to see me through the learning curves, the training, and the undeniable lifestyle change. Camp teaches you about passion and commitment. It teaches you that when you truly care about something, you will do just about anything for it. That doesn’t come overnight for people, it comes from the stringing together of experiences. As campers and as counselors, we were taught to dig deep and to challenge ourselves. Camp also teaches you to be committed to a cause greater than yourself, one with a common goal in mind, a project, or a purpose. Here at Boston Children’s, I’ve learned to align those Perlman lessons into the objectives of the nonprofit I now work for.

Here’s what I know so far: We come to work each day for the kids. At camp, we did the same. We come to work each day because we are depended on. At camp, we woke up each morning for the same reason. We come to work each day to let ourselves grow, to learn, and to be all that we can be. When you think back to it, whether you went to camp decades ago or a handful of summers ago, it’s what made you who you are. That passion, commitment and consistent surprise of personal ability and resilience is what is showing up in our everyday lives; and just like that Pio Village fire pit, it ain’t going dim for a while. Camp’s with us – forever.

Make sure when you wake up tomorrow morning and go to work, you take a few seconds between sips of coffee on that chaotic commute to think about where all that passion and commitment began. Let that spark come alive again, and thank your years at Perlman for the original ignition of it.

And the best part about it? Perlman promises to be a part of your life forever; there is no final goodbye, termination, or resignation. It’s the greatest promise of all.



Mollie is a Surgical Schedule Coordinator at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her 1st summer at camp was in ’04. She has spent 12 years at Perlman as a camper, staff member and mostly recently as the SIT Supervisor.