Youth and teen summer camps are as popular as ever, giving kids a chance to spend some time away from home, make some new friends, and explore the outdoors. A good camp experience is nothing without good staff.
Being a camp counselor is an unforgettable, fun, and fulfilling experience. If you have decided to spend your next summer as a camp counselor, here are some tips to become a great one.
- Understand what the job entails. As fun as the counselor experience is, it’s also exceptionally draining. You will be tired. You won’t get a solid eight hours of sleep. You won’t get the opportunity to shower every day. Above all, you can’t complain about it. If you complain about your fatigue and questionable hygiene, your campers are sure to do the same, promoting a miserable camp atmosphere. Do your best to be happy and positive, even when things get tough.
- Pay attention to training. The training period gives you and the other counselors an inside look at how the camp runs and any emergency procedures. It’s easy to tune out this seemingly administrative stuff but pay close attention. It could save you and your campers’ lives.
- Prepare for each day. Take each day separately, going through the agenda, and preparing yourself mentally for what’s to come. The better prepared you are, the more prepared your campers will be, and the less anxiety they’ll have.
- Try to break up cliques. Cliques are a natural part of all academic summer camps (and life in general). Do your best to make sure your campers mingle as much as possible. Have them sit with different people at lunch or assign them partners with someone they wouldn’t normally talk to. Each camper will have his core group of friends but you need to make sure that the cabin as a whole work together.
- Make friends with other counselors. You don’t have to be best friends with all of the other camp counselors, but you should get along and, at the minimum, be able to work together. Campers will pick up on even the slightest bit of tension between counselors.
- Know the names of your campers. Middle school summer programs are filled with a whole host of new faces and names. Sure, it’s okay to mix up or forget names the first day or two but do your best to learn campers’ names as quickly as possible. Constantly mixing up names will hurt campers’ feelings and lose their respect.