Super CIT Spotlight: Zeek Rivera

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

This year we were lucky enough to have Zeek Rivera as a first time camper.  At 16 years old Zeek was a part of our Counselor in Training Program.  From his first day we could tell that he was going to be a fantastic CIT and a true role model for our campers.  Throughout the summer we learned that Zeek had an incredible amount of talent in all areas and because of his outgoing and loving personality, he soon became a living legend at camp.  Zeek stayed with us for all three sessions.  Amongst many of the memorable times he impressed us with his awesomeness was the time he got up on stage and blew everyone away with his version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallejulah.’  

To Celebrate Zeek’s awesomeness and other CITs who really wowed us this past summer, we are kicking off a new Blog Spotlight showcasing our Summer of 2017 Super CITs.  To hear about what Zeek had to say about his experience at Camp Birch Hill and to see some of his awesome artwork keep reading below.

Tell us about your experience as a CIT.  What kinds of things did you learn in your time as a CIT that you feel would help you to become a great counselor?

Something that I’ve learned while being a CIT that could help me be a great counselor would be vulnerability and connectedness. You must be vulnerable to obtain a connection. One example would be this one night in Session Two, I had a minor breakdown cause I was worried about a situation that I went through before camp and I kept it to myself.  My counselor Galen pulled me aside and we would converse about the topic and that built up my relationship with him and I would definitely say that he is a major older brother/father figure to me . It was great speaking out rather than keeping it in and If I ever become a counselor I would most definitely try my best to have that skill and have that connection with the campers and let them know if there is anything bothering them that they can come to me or my co or anyone, let them know that they are not alone .

 Would you want to be a counselor at Camp Birch Hill?  If so, why?

If I have the opportunity to become a counselor at Birch Hill, I would be there in a heartbeat. I love camp. Though it was my first summer over this past summer it felt like I have been going for years. Plus being a counselor is a major privilege, you’re in a cabin with 8 to 10 kids and thanks to the experience with cabin shadowing I know that you play a huge role in their lives because they are growing and developing into amazing young men and women. In Session One I had the honor of shadowing Cabin 2, they had such high spirits and hilarious jokes too; when it was time for lights out and getting ready for bed the kids would beg Kevin to read them a bedtime story and turns out Kevin has been doing it the whole session and during rest hours Kevin would sit on the stoop and play his guitar.  Some kids would sit around him and others would play Gaga or swing at the swing next to the cabin. Seeing them go up to Kevin and hugging him and crying about leaving saying that don’t want to leave or that they really want to come back was moving.  I also got some campers coming up to me and asking me if I was coming back next summer or if I would ever return as a counselor, I would tell them “I really hope I do,” and we would hug it out and some wanted me to meet their parents. I couldn’t help but cry also myself. Mid Session Two I received a letter (well an email) and it was a mom thanking the camp and some counselor like Kate and to my surprise I was also on the email and the mother thanked us and wrote about the things her daughter would say about us. Moments like those, you truly know that you are impacting a child’s life. So sign me up, cause it is so life changing.

Why do you think camp is an important experience for children to have?

Camp is an important experience because it is a break from the outside world. In camp you get to be who you are, get to experience things you haven’t done before like zipping and sliding at high ropes, painting a horse, being a general in Jebidiah’s army, or eating Rich’s awesome pancakes and ice pops. You can make friendships that will last you a life time and have fun without a care in the world. Camp is an outlet that is just so magical that all you want to do is jump in and have fun and you learn lessons and other things too like being a friend and family, to care for one another that when if one is down others are there to lift them up. Camp is an adventure that any child can just jump in and explore .

What is your favorite memory from camp?

My favorite memory from camp has always been in either the Music Room or the porch of the Duderanch. Third session we were trying to figure out what we would do for lip-syncs. Sam had the idea of doing my song Biohazard; we all agreed and it was set. The following day Sam and I asked Andy if he could record Biohazard during afternoon rest hour. Galen was on guitar, Fabian on drums, Jr and Finn on ukulele, Billy on bongos and I was on vocals and keyboard. Recording was so much fun, Galen added his flair on guitar, Billy and Fabian doing awesome with the beat and Jr and Finn killed it on the uke. The experience was amazing but practice with the song was killer. We all had ideas and we combined them together and we made the song come alive. The night of lip-sync the show was breathtaking; it was unique and Raw and it’s a moment in my life I will never forget. The next day we found out that we placed first place and it was as if gum drops and rainbows was falling from the sky. I love my cabin.

You have a lot of creative talents, could you tell us a little about them?

So as my campers, counselors, and staff know I love up-cycling , decorating, writing music and drawing. I had many CITs, counselors and campers come up to me asking if I can decorate a shirt or sweater for them or if they can help me when I am doing them and that just lights my heart up. When they see the finish products it’s just a shower of hugs and it was fun making things with them. My biggest askers were my friends Keegan and Brooklyn, I love the sparkle in there eyes when I give them the sweaters I made them. First session was big on drawing and one of my favorite responses was from my Camp dad James; His eyes popped out as if he was one of those dog toys. People ask me where do I get my ideas/what’s my secret and my secret  is that I wake up early in the morning, wrap my self in my red blanket and just sit outside and stare/observe nature and listen to the wind and the music of the wind and morning; that’s also what I do for my song writing and a few campers would join me afternoon rest hour and rock out as well.

What was it like coming to camp for your first time and automatically becoming such a major role model for others?

So my first day at camp upon arriving I remember just being amazed at the atmosphere I was surrounded by. I had this feeling of nostalgia and it was as if I was if I was floating on air . I remember walking up the path to Cabin 10. Sam and Matt were chilling around and they both thought I was a military dad from my attire and also the fact my luggage was my grandfather’s old military duffle bag. I unpacked my things and met Jake in the cafe and we were talking and I remember just be so nervously excited and he told me that I’m gonna fit in just fine . I never thought I would be a major role model for others, I would just be me . I love helping and serving people, if you ask my cabin mates to describe me in one word, it would most likely it would be selfless. All that matters to me is making people happy. 


Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Zeke!  We are so proud to have you as a part of our Birch Hill family.  Below are some pictures of some of Zeke’s designs and the link to Hallelujah on our Youtube Channel.