Now, I’m not saying I’m the best camp counsellor because that would make me sound cocky, and compared to the bunch of talented people I worked with during the summer, I’m not. This is just a little post to give you an insight on how to get the most out of your time as a camp counselor, and more importantly, how to ensure your campers like you. If your campers like you from day one, it’ll make your job easier and a lot more fun! Camp is awesome, but camp wouldn’t be camp without the children that look up to you.
Take the time to get to know each and every one of your campers.
So, depending on what camp you are on, depends on how often you have a turnover of children. If you’re on a camp with long residential programmes e.g. children staying the majority of the summer, then you’ve got more time to get to know your campers. My camp was run on weekly residential programmes, so it was vital that as staff, we spent the first day really getting to know our campers so we knew each individual and their likes/dislikes/interests in order to make their week the best it possibly could be. Taking the time to get to know your campers allows for them to acknowledge that you are taking an interest in their lives, which will then help create a better bond with them, contributing to a very happy and fun atmosphere!
This is important, especially as an international. Children like asking questions, and will look at you to provide an answer. You can never be prepared for what question they’ll ask, BUT keep a schedule on you at all times for the “what are we doing next?”, “when is swim time?” questions, keep up to date with the latest celeb heartthrob/craze, and if you’re an international member of staff (British in particular) be prepared for questions on the Queen, it happens, and it happens a lot…but saying she’s your grandmother will do the job if you fancy a change (😂). More importantly, with the fear of the unknown, make it sound like you know the answer, even if you don’t…some questions can be the craziest, most obscure things you could ever be asked, but as long as you sound like you know what you’re talking about, everything will be alright.
Try and avoid the word ‘no’
Obviously this has restrictions, there’s going to be times when you need to say ‘no’ , but that’s where common sense comes in. This is more in terms of making you the coolest camp counsellor ever. If your campers ask you to go in the pool with them, do it. Even if you are fully clothed. If your campers ask you to go down the zip line. Do it. If your campers ask you to sit by them at lunch. Do it. If your campers ask whether they can face paint your face. Let them. If your campers ask you to sing a song. Do it. You get the jiist. Obviously, all of the above depends on what your camp allows, but camp is all about having fun, and as long as everything’s right with ratio, health and safety etc. Do it. Those campers have asked you to do something because they have bonded with you, they enjoy being with you and respect you (or they just want to see you get all your clothes and hair wet when you planned staying out of the pool), but either way, saying yes after a bit of nagging will not only make you the ‘coolest camp counsellor’, but you guarantee both yourself and the campers will have a crazy amount of fun.
Use your time off wisely
I’d like to say the job is that enjoyable that you don’t need a break, but despite how much fun you could be having, make sure you use your assigned break wisely. A job as a camp counsellor is demanding, and rewarding, but the only way you’ll succeed is by ensuring you are refreshed and ready for everything. Use your breaks to sit down, have a breather, maybe listen to some music, do some colouring, take a power nap, or catch up with family back home. It’s important that in order to ensure you are giving the campers the best possible time, that you take a little time each day to have some ‘me time’ and get a little rest.
It’s hard work, but knowing you’ve had an impact on not only a child’s summer experience, but ultimately their life, just through having fun and being a positive role model will be the best feeling ever. There’s nothing better than seeing that camper that would sit on her/his own at the beginning of the session, now getting along with campers and learning new things, knowing that it’s done just by providing fun and having a a great time. I’d do anything I could to see a permanent smile on my campers face. I’d often let them pick my t-shirt for the day (they liked my Disney collection), I’d randomly break out into a song and a dance, I’d be there to listen to them, I’d make them laugh.
You will get out of your experience as a camp counsellor, as much as you put into it, so enjoy every minute of every day and it’s sure to be an experience you won’t forget.