Tag: camp stuff

Profile of a Camp Counselor

So, you want to be a Camp Counselor?

So you are thinking about being a camp counselor for a summer?  Do you want to spend a summer working in a stunning setting in the mountains with fresh air and beautiful weather and travel to new parts of the world?  Are you looking to expand on your experience working with children or coaching?  Do you want the ability to meet people from all over the world and make everlasting friendships?   Do you want to make a difference in someone’s life?

Being a camp counselor is one of the hardest jobs that you will love.  The relationships you create and the impact you make with campers and staff members will give you memories and friends that can last a lifetime.

The job of camp counselor is very challenging and demanding (along with being a lot of fun!)  While working as a camp counselor you are constantly engrossed with the campers’ experience. You rarely get a chance to check facebook, you barely get a chance to check your phone, and you have kids full of energy begging for you to play cards, play games or shoot hoops with them.  On top of that, you live and sleep in the same room as these campers.

But why do it? The reward of being a camp counselor stays with you for the rest of your life.   Helping a camper shoot his or her first bull’s-eye in archery, having a camper conquer his or her fear of heights on the high ropes course, help teach a camper how to start his or her own lanyard knot only to hear they were able to do it on their own.  It is the little things that as young adults and adults we take for granted.  It is the ability to create fun and lasting memories.

To be a successful camp counselor in any camp environment, you have to be a mature goofball. When you come to work at a summer camp, you need to check your ego at the front gate.  You have to be able to laugh at yourself and allow others to laugh with you.  It shows the campers and other staff members that you are here to have fun and nothing is going to stop you, but you are going to do it in a mature and safe manner.  You have to be able to create games on the fly, play these crazy games and enjoy them like it is best game you have ever played. Finally, you have to be able to put the camper first, no matter how quickly they can push your buttons (which may happen.)

One of the best qualities a great counselor has is being able to listen.  Listen to what your camper has to say; whether it is talking about their arts and crafts activity, of their pets from home, or their crazy stories about family vacations.  If you actually listen to the campers, they will learn to respect you as a counselor and a person.

The one quality we always see in the great counselors we have worked with is their ability to put the camper before him or herself; no matter the issue, no matter the time, no matter how tired you might be.  What happens when a camper has a problem? The GOOD counselor makes sure someone is there to resolve the issue and leaves…  The GREAT counselor sits with that camper until he or she is feeling better again, even if that means leaving late on your night off, and checks in with them over the next couple days.

The difference of being a good counselor, to a great counselor, can also have an impact on whether the campers have just a good summer, or the best summer ever.

The best summer ever starts with you.  When a camper goes home for the summer and begins to tell his or her parents about the great summer they had, YOUR NAME will be said within the first ten words in that child’s story of his or her summer.

You have an opportunity as a summer camp counselor to make a difference in child’s life.  Whether it is life skills, social skills, or just having fun, you have the option to create that for the camper.

Think about a time in your life when someone helped you achieve something you are proud of.  You get a chance to be that person.  That is why we are here.  The work is demanding; that is why being a camp counselor is one of the hardest jobs that you will love.  With hard work comes great reward, and there is not better reward than a happy child.  It is an experience you will never forget.

Three Steps to Joy

As school lets out and families spend time together at the end of each year, we spend a lot of time wishing ‘Joy’ to one another.

It is a joyful occasion, is it not? Parents who work hard throughout the year take a few moments to relax and connect with their children. Kids are thrilled to be out of school for a few weeks and look forward to the celebration of their family’s holiday.  The tv is full of messages of good tidings and cheerful holiday music plays through most speakers.

All of these joyful tidings made me remember what a mentor once said about true joy. He told me about three major points concerning true joy that I’d like to share with you.

First, if you want to be joyful, surround yourself with joyful people.

That is one of reasons I love camp so much. At Weequahic, one of the defining themes of our staff interviews and training rests on joy – how much counselors have and how willing they  are to express it. The best staff members may not be the most talented singers, hockey teachers, or bunk cleaners. They are, however, always the most joyful.

So, how do you handle those ‘joy suckers’ around you? My friend suggested to be kind to them but just don’t hang out with them. Makes sense to me!

Secondly, true joy comes from devoting your life to something larger than your own personal happiness.

Tony and I were just talking the other day about our most memorable coaching experiences. Both involved helping a young person achieve a level of athletic competence they didn’t think possible. The look on their faces when they did something they never thought they could do was priceless. There was complete joy in their faces and manner. That was the best reward we could have received!

Our bunk counselors and campers see this every day at Weequahic. Bunks that truly come  together becomes an ‘us’ rather than a collection of ‘me’s.’ And that is when the magic really starts to happen.

By the way, did you know that those who devote themselves to their own personal happiness never truly find it? It will always remain out of reach.

Finally, he told me that joy will always be in spite of something else.

I love this point. Camp, as much as we would like to make it so, is never perfect. There will always be a few bugs, a meal that is not as good as mom’s, or an evening activity that is just not your favorite. However, if you are waiting for the conditions to change in your life for joy to arrive, you’ll wait a mighty long time.

Karl Barth said “Joy is a defiant ‘never the less!’ It’s not contingent on circumstances. If it is, we are all in trouble.”

Sure, we can be upset by something. However, this moment of sorrow should be temporary and our primary attitude should be that of gratitude and joy.

So, this holiday season, I wish you the happiness which comes from joyful friends and families, being a part of something larger than yourself, and the recognition that, despite the bumps in life, joy is an attitude you can choose to adopt daily.

Happy holidays, all!

Cole Kelly