Behind the Scenes: Q&A with a Camp Counselor
What most surprised you when you first started working at camp?
The kids – they’re really intelligent. A lot of the time they’ll surprise you. You’ll plan an activity that you expect will take all day and they’ll finish in a few minutes because they’re fast at things. There’s always something new and fun to do with them and they teach you as much as you teach them.
What do you like least about your summer camp job?
At the end of the day, you don’t get to go home. You’re there for the long haul. The kids are great, but at five in the morning when someone can’t sleep because there’s a spider in their tent, you just wish you were in our own bed sometimes! You have to deal with problems all the time, and if you don’t know what to do you have to improvise. No one’s there to hold your hand through it. To the kids, you are the go-to person.
When it comes to your counselor experiences, what makes you most proud?
Just being a role model to the kids. I work at an all-girls camp and every year there are new girls who really need a strong female figure in their lives, even if it is just for the summer. They have lots of problems that I’ve already been through, so I can be someone that’s in charge, but also a friend. I’m proud of that, and I think I’ve made a difference in some kids’ lives.
Why is your job better than other summer jobs?
My job is great! I was able to get really close to the other members of the staff, and this job is one I did all through college, so I could come back every summer when I was on break and not have a problem being rehired. You also get to work outside, which is nice, and you get free housing for the summer but its not with mom and dad!
What advice would you give to someone looking to be hiring in a counselor position?
Show the director that you’re responsible. That’s the main thing they need – someone they can trust to deal with problems without a lot of help. Camp directors are really busy and don’t need you crying to them every time two campers get into an argument or a camper spills paint all over herself. You have to be able to take charge of a situation on your own.