We consistently hear from young adults that their time as a camp counselor is one of their best memories. But it doesn’t always start that way–adjusting to the life of a counselor can sometimes take time.
Because it can take time, we compiled a list of tips for camp counselors in hopes that it will better prepare you for the transition into the role of a camp counselor!
Lead by example
At camp, you are exposing your campers to new things while teaching them teamwork, gratitude, and self-sufficiency. Practice these things yourself. Bond with your fellow counselors and work together with them. Show respect to the camp directors, parents, and even the children. Get into a routine that works for you. It’s hard to expect your campers to follow the rules, be inclusive, and enjoy their time if you aren’t doing the same.
Invest in your campers
Counselors often come in believing their job is to babysit some young kids: shepherd them from one activity to another, maintain order, and be there if something goes wrong.
A counselor’s role is much more than that!
You are there to help kids grow emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Learn their names, what they enjoy, and what makes them who they are. Take time to be their friend, not just their temporary supervisor. You’ll be amazed how much just a little bit of attention and intentional conversation means to them.
To have a functional camp, it is important to set and memorize a schedule. While a schedule is important, it is also important to find the balance between being a stickler and allowing the kids some time to learn and enjoy their experience. If your children are having a hard time keeping up, try building extra time into your schedule. If one activity is causing stress and another is a crowd favorite, maybe scrap the former and focus more time on other things. Always think about what you can do to make the campers’ experience better.
Remember your purpose
Being a counselor for young children is a great experience for youth and young adults. Counselors often develop lifelong friendships, discover something they want to do in their career, or have significant spiritual experiences. Those things are intended to happen along the journey. If you come expecting to get something in return out of the experience, you may lose sight of why you’re really there, and in turn miss out on what He has for you to learn.
The primary reason counselors come to camp is to help others — namely the campers — experience those things. Your focus should be on helping the kids have a camp to remember. If you do that, chances are you’ll learn something about yourself and our Lord along the way.