Six years ago, Teresa Kostohris spent one week at Dunrovin Retreat Center. It was the inaugural year of the now well-established leadership program run by Dunrovin.
“It pretty much changed my life,” she said.
The next year, Kostohris returned to Dunrovin to participate in the two-week-long leadership program. By the program’s third year, Kostohris was spending four weeks at Dunrovin to train as a counselor for younger students.
This year marks her fourth year as a counselor, and her experience shows. Kostohris leads groups of young, at-risk students through games, prayers, and other camp activities. With the help of Dunrovin’s DLITE leadership team, Kostohris attempts to influence and change the lives of the impressionable youth that attend these camps.
Dunrovin’s Personal Impact on Counselors
The campers are certainly not the only ones affected by Dunrovin’s programs. Kostohris says the years she spent at Dunrovin learning leadership changed and molded her.
“I’ve learned a lot about what it means to love people and I’ve learned to see past the walls and dig deeper,” she said. “The kids have taught me so much; the enjoyment they get out of the little things is outstanding. So much has happened to them, and they don’t let it weigh them down.”
Students who participate in Dunrovin’s DLITE leadership program, like Kostohris, benefit from getting to know these unique campers. Most of the DLITE students come from the Twin Cities area, while the younger campers come from Chicago. Many DLITE students have not experienced the struggles that the inner-city campers have. By working with these younger, different students, the DLITE students realize their own blessings. Furthermore, the DLITE students are inspired to make a difference in the campers’ lives and create the best experience possible.
Like the DLITE students, Kostohris can now better understand those she works with. By leading many groups of campers for several years, she has learned about the campers’ lives and the characters. On a personal level, Kostohris better understands her own responsibilities and the consequences of her actions.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” she said. “We don’t always have control over what happens to us, but we can control our response.”
The DLITE counselors hope to teach this concept of self-government to the younger campers. Through discussions and activities, the DLITE students empower campers to take control of their actions and become better people. According to Kostohris, Dunrovin’s camps succeed at this goal.
“You can see the campers become who they really are,” she said.
The involvement and passion of its DLITE students and leaders truly affects the success of Dunrovin’s programs.
“Our job is to get to know the campers and make them feel loved,” Kostohris said.
By making the campers feel important, cared for, and powerful, the program fosters confidence, friendship, and life skills. Spiritual growth, personal improvement, and teamwork are all encouraged. The camps at Dunrovin are not purely about canoeing or relaxing; they provide support and encouragement. This emphasis allows Dunrovin’s programs to teach leadership and empowerment naturally and easily. Above all else, though, Dunrovin’s camps create genuine, holy love among campers, leaders, and counselors alike.