Your teen has been to summer camp for a few years, and now they’re old enough to join camp staff as a Counselor-In-Training (CIT). Why should they? What are the benefits of your child being on staff? Counselors on staff are provided important training, get real-life opportunities to manage conflict and learn practical life skills while having fun all the while.
Here are 10 practical reasons why a teen should think about joining camp staff for the summer:
1. New counselors are provided a wide variety of training - A portion of it may be off-site, such as manuals, that need to be read before camp and online courses, but the rest of the new skills will be learned at camp. “Topics such as recognizing and dealing with potential bullying, inappropriate behaviors, respect for fellow staff and campers, and how to encourage children to participate at activities should be included in camp staff training,” says Howard Batterman, owner of Sesame/Rockwood Camps and Diamond Ridge Camps.
2. Camp counselors, as well as other camp staff, are required to learn CPR and First-Aid - This training will include learning to recognize and care for first-aid emergencies, such as burns and cuts, neck and back injuries, and heat and cold emergencies.
3. Many camps provide ‘real life situations’training for counselors and their CITs - Check into the facility’s program to see if the camp has a designated level of counselors, like CITs for a year, and then progress to a full-time counselor.
4. Camps typically have weekly debriefing sessions where only staff meet and discuss how camp is going - This is a time for counselors to share their assessments on how their cabin members are working together. Team-building among the staff can happen too during these downtimes. Your teen can learn various people skills that will help them in the future.
5. Additional feedback is often helpful in the maturing of a camp counselor - “That is why it is so important for the directors and administrators of a camp to monitor the progress of each and every staff member with constructive and written progress reports throughout the summer session,” says Batterman.
6. Camp staff have a lot of fun but are required to be role models to the campers - “Working hard to set a positive example for youth is a challenging growth experience. When was the last time an 18-year-old went nine weeks without swearing, for example?” says psychologist, Dr. Christopher A. Thurber.
7. Facing conflict can be a difficult situation for some kids and while at camp, counselors will get a lot of opportunities to do so - Staff learn to recognize conflict and help campers see there are always two sides to a story. Camp staff work with kids to help them see that what they learn at camp can be brought home with them when the campers are back to the ‘real world.’ And your teen will learn the same conflict resolution skills that they are teaching campers.
Enhances leadership skills
8. Counselors also have to make sure their campers are being good sports - They need to rally the troops in a competition but remember good sportsmanship at the same time, which isn’t always an easy thing to do.
Being a staff member is a 24/7 job. And fortunately, electronics are discouraged during camp so it’s a positive environment to interact with other staff and campers. “Each activity, including meals, are terrific opportunities for the counselor to be creative in helping children become confident at an activity and in ways to get along with other campers and staff,” says Batterman.
9. Being a camp counselor, they may get a chance to laugh at themselves - Kids can be brutally honest and will point out the counselor’s shortcomings. “So being a camp counselor is, therefore, humbling and tremendously demanding,” says Thurber.
10. Camp counselors also get a chance to speak in front of groups - They’ll learn to be more outgoing and silly at the same time. Your once shy and awkward 18-year-old may come home a bit more boisterous and chatty.
“Camp staff directly influence youth development in ways that are tangible, rewarding, entertaining and of course, fun,” says Thurber. Camp staff thrive in an environment of exploration, build self-esteem in themselves and their campers, and have fun while doing it.
Jan is a professional writer and mom of five. For more information, visit janudlock.com.
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