Archive for February 2013

The ABC’s of Camp Counseling

A is for Active

You have to be active with your campers in order for them to really like you. If you sit out of every activity, the campers won’t think you care about them.

B is for Bravery

Try not to be too afraid of doing something. If you’re brave, your campers will probably follow you. Show them that what you’re doing is not scary.

C is for Cheerful

Be cheerful. Even if you’re in a bad mood, be sure to keep a smile on your face. A bad day for you is a bad day for your campers. They’ll notice if you’re in a bad mood.

D is for Desire

You have to have the desire to give kids a fun summer. If you don’t have that desire, you might not be the best counselor.

E is for Everyone

Interact with everyone and get everyone involved! If you notice one of the kids in your bunk is shy, be sure to get him/her involved with the other kids even more.

F is for Funny

As a camp counselor, you should be a funny person. Kids don’t want a camp counselor who’s serious all of the time. Make jokes, have a good time.

G is for Guide

It’s your job to guide your campers in the right direction of their life.

H is for Happy

This is a given. You have to be happy. Don’t be angry all of the time.

I is for Independence

Teach your campers to become more independent than they are. If they always ask you to make them a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, teach them how to make it on their own so when the time comes that you aren’t there for them, they’ll know how to make it on their own.

J is for Join in

Don’t sit on the side lines. Participate and have fun with the kids. Even if it means running around a playground or going down a slide. Do it.

K is for Kids

This could have two meanings. The first one means that you have to be good with kids to be a successful camp counselor. The second meaning is to let the kid inside of yourself come out while at camp. You may not be the most active or creative person outside of camp, but inside camp that doesn’t matter. Even if you aren’t the best at drawing, draw anyway. You may not enjoy kickball, but play anyway.

L is for Laugh

You should always laugh. If one of your campers tells you a story or joke that they find funny but you don’t, laugh anyway. Of course, remember to laugh at appropriate times. If a camper trips on a rock and falls, that’s not the time to laugh (even though you may want to). If a camper draws a bad picture, don’t laugh at it.

M is for Make Friends

Make friends with your campers. Obviously this will probably happen, but make sure it does. Never ignore one camper totally. Also, have your campers make friends with each other.

N is for No Yelling

You should never yell at a camper. You might scare them or make a bad situation worse. Or if you yell enough, they might actually get used to it and yelling won’t be a threat to them. Just don’t yell. There’s no need for that in camp.

O is for Options

Give your campers options. They’ll have to learn sometime to choose and make decisions. Why not help them out. Sometimes they might not like the options, but they’ll have to choose. For example, one choice they may have is to either go swimming or get popsicles. They can only choose one. Another time this is useful is if your bunk is given an option of activities to choose from. Don’t decide just amongst the counselors. Give the campers in your bunk a choice of what they want as well. Then go from there.

P is for Patience

Have patience. This is pretty self-explanatory.

Q is for Questions

Instead of punishing two kids for fighting right away, ask questions. Ask why they were fighting, what started it, who started it, was there a better way to solve the problem.

R is for Reasoning

Teach your campers to reason instead of fight. Teach them to reason instead of kick, scream, and cry.

S is for Sanity

Be sure to keep your sanity while working at camp, no matter how stressful times can get. If you ever need help, go to your division head or one of your superiors and talk with them. They’ll listen.

T is for Teach

Teach your campers the ways of life. Teach them to try and become the best person they can be.

U is for Understanding

Camp counselors are understanding people. If a camper is upset, a camp counselor will sit down and talk with them and listen to what they have to say.

V is for Vigilance

As a camp counselor, you are in charge of making sure your campers are safe. This is one of your most important tasks. Don’t let your guard down or assume a camper you don’t see is okay.

W is for Wisdom

In addition to making sure your campers have a fun summer, you can also teach them valuable life lessons. Share your wisdom with your campers and watch them grow as the weeks go on.

X is for eXcellence

You have a limited amount of time to give your campers the best summer they can have. Give it your all 100% of the time and be an excellent counselor.

Y is for Yes I Can

Camp is not only a place for campers to learn new things and explore outside of their comfort zone; counselors can do this too! Why not volunteer for an acting part in the camp play, even if you’ve never acted before? Why not play with the kids in a sport you’re not very good at? Lead by example and show your campers it doesn’t matter how good you are at something; what’s important is that you gave it a good effort and tried your best.

Z is for Zzz

Let’s face it: a well-rested counselor is always better than a groggy counselor! Get the sleep you need, whether you’re at a day camp or overnight camp.

What Makes Camp Special

There are lots of different features that are specific to your own camp. These could be little things, ways of lining up, a weekly show or the music played between activity periods… if any are played at all!

At my camp, for example, at the end of every meal the Program Director gives out announcements about what is happening in the day. To get all the camper’s attention, he crouches down, while everyone bangs on the table, and then they all shout something out, and he calls back at them. After the announcements, he will choose which table to go first and second.

This is a very poor description, but makes my point: how exactly do you tell the people around you (or even people from other camps!) all the little things that make your camp special. They are usually mundane, tiny things that happen every day, but make it a unique special place to be in. How exactly can you tell the people back home about your summer?

I think my ineloquence here highlights my point, that it is difficult to fully describe your camp experience, because — regardless of whether a day or overnight camp — it is such a huge all encompassing experience, and as such is like trying to describe an eight week holiday or traveling excursion: either way it usually involves taking lots of photos!