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Summer Camp & Lawyering

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

By Shannon Stein, President 

 The butterflies of excitement would begin a week before the big day, slowly increasing as the “big day” approached.  The night before no sleep would be had. The bags would be ready. The final details for the day ahead would be discussed.  The new outfit would be chosen.

The “day of” would begin with a good breakfast, a good shower, and an extensive look over to make sure everything was packed and ready to go.

On the drive there, the butterflies would increase.  I could not get there soon enough. Have you figured out what is the “big day?”  No, it is not the first day of trial but the first day of summer camp!

I am the product of summer camp.  For over ten years, I spent my summers or a portion of the summer at URJ Camp Swig up in the Saratoga Mountains on Big Basin Way. (The camp has since moved to Santa Rosa.)

My memories of camp are still the fondest memories of my childhood.  I loved meeting people from all over the world, the campfires, playing ga-ga, going on hikes, arts and crafts, drama, dancing and singing songs.  My favorite year of camp was when I was a Counselor In Training.  (known at Camp as a CIT).  Last summer was my 20th CIT reunion.  Many of my camp friends are still my closest friends today.

I believe that my experience at summer camp has prepared me to be a successful lawyer. The following are few of the reasons why:

*Relationship building:  As a camper you had to learn to live with other people. You had to learn to take direction from a counselor or a counselor in training.  As lawyers we need to build our networks. We need to be able to get along well with our colleagues, clients, the bench and our employers. We need to be able to take direction from our employers and the bench. We need to build relationships with the public so our business can thrive.  We need to build a network of people to whom we can go to when we need assistance or just want to have fun with.

*Time Management: At camp every minute of the day is planned with different activities, from programs to meals. The schedule was always placed on the door of our cabin.  When I start my work day, I always look at my calendar and note in my head when my appointments are and then pencil in the work that needs to be done that day.

*Billable hours:  You knew this one was coming! Because every minute of my day at camp was planned, I am an expert in recording my time.

*Free Time: Each day at camp there was at least an hour of free time.  We work hard as lawyers! Our jobs are very stressful. We deal with people when they are in conflict.  Make sure that each day you are scheduling in time for yourself. Go play golf, run, bake, spend time with your family—do something that is relaxing and fun for you.

*Public Speaking:  Often at Camp, we would make presentations or perform skits.  Although there are some attorney jobs where one does not need to speak, most of us do need to have the ability to speak in front of others. 

There are days when I find myself dreaming of being back at Camp. I do get “butterflies” still when I get ready for trial.  As much as I love going to trial and the “rush” of litigating cases---I sometimes wish that those butterflies were for driving up Big Basin way and heading to Camp.

Enjoy the sunshine.

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