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May 21, 2018

5 Traits that Make Camp Counselors Great

By Tampa Bay Parenting

Summer Camp Counselors: 5 Traits that make an outstanding camp counselor

As summer approaches, the main question parents have about summer camp is where they should enroll their children. But there’s another factor to consider that can turn a camp experience from OK to exceptional. 

The counselors. 

Who’s spending all day with your kids? Counselors set the tone for camps, balancing unique responsibilities. We expect them to provide safe supervision but also offer warmth, caring and, yes, fun. 

Summer Camp Counselors

 Here are 5 factors outstanding camp counselors have in common: 

A positive presence. The right attitude from counselors lets students know from the first day  they’re in a good place. It establishes counselors as role models, soothes anxiety campers might have about new experiences and encourages involvement and participation. 

Directors at Corbett Prep’s CAMP IDS provide training to counselors to ensure their upbeat attitudes match their body language and speech, strategies Corbett Prep teachers practice all year at school. Positive communication is reflected when body language, facial expression and tone of voice are aligned. Positive phrasing puts the emphasis on what teachers want from kids, rather than dwelling on forbidden behaviors. Saying “please walk” instead of “don’t run,” for example, draws attention to the desired actions instead of dwelling on the negative. 

Related: Summer Camp related articles in Tampa Bay

Experience with kids. Camps have a limited amount of time for a lot of fun. Counselors need to know how to manage students of different ages, how to talk to kids at their level and how to move efficiently from activity to activity. Experienced counselors know techniques to grab students’ attention and help them stay on task. They know when a camper needs a friendly ear and how to step in to manage conflicts.  

Experience as a counselor. Imagine the chaos if every year a director had to start camp with an entirely new team. One way camp organizers make sure they have strong candidates for counselor jobs is to grow their own staff. They give new counselors the chance to develop their skills under seasoned professionals. 

Every camp at CAMP IDS has a lead counselor who is a teacher or professional in that field. Counselors in training work with the lead counselor, assuming duties and responsibilities based on how much experience they have. Rising ninth graders are matched with these assistant counselors as volunteers in training, allowing them to learn on the job from mentors. As counselors gain experience, their privileges increase, and they earn the right to take on more complicated duties, an incentive to return to the job each year. 

Initiative. With more than 100 camps, CAMP IDS buzzes with activity all summer. Every employee plays a part to ensure camp runs smoothly. Counselors need to be proactive and look for ways to provide excellent customer service to students and parents within their camp session and for the camp as a whole. Counselor assistants and volunteers must know the campers and camp well enough to anticipate what everyone needs and take the initiative to respond. Lead counselors appreciate the chance to focus on the lesson they need to teach, while their assistants handle preparation, cleanup and camper issues. 

Energy. Counselors are more than babysitters – they play an active role in campers’ days. Campers of all ages value their time with counselors and want them by their sides, decorating cupcakes, catching fish, playing soccer or making slime. They want their counselors to share their excitement over whatever they do.  And they want to be known. The mantra at CAMP IDS is that “every child is visible,” and conscientious counselors interact daily to build meaningful relationships with each camper. 

A camp counselor job demands a high level of interaction, but the payoff is worth it for the students, the parents and even the counselors themselves. 

Related:

5 Summer Camp Challenges and How to Handle Them

How to Choose the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

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