The Secret to Being a Great Camp Counselor

An Excellent Kids Camp Counselor

I had an interesting conversation with a new counselor today. Actually, she was not completely new to Rockbrook, but rather an old camper who had this year become a counselor for the first time. She told me she had discovered “the secret to being a great counselor.” Naturally, I was intrigued, after all, we spend a full week training our counselors before the campers arrive. We talk about dozens of different topics that we know are important to life as a counselor, including health and safety issues, managing cabin social dynamics, special aspects about working with girls, how to teach an activity class, handling homesickness, and so forth. Out of all the content presented that week, I was eager to hear what she now believes is the “secret.”

She said, “You just have to enjoy being with your girls. You have to like them, even love them, and everything else follows from there.” Thinking about it later, there’s a lot of truth to that. Counselors who truly enjoy getting to know their campers, become good friends with them, care for them, are tuned into their needs, support them when they need encouragement, and can easily sympathize with them. When a counselor enjoys her campers’ company, she seeks them out and is quite naturally present to help when needed. With this kind of comfortable relationship, combined with good instincts, certainly some training, and common sense, counselors not only “supervise” well, they also find themselves enjoying their work, laughing and playing with the campers, and really embracing the camp community. And that feels really good. I think this young woman knew she was being a great counselor because both she and her campers were having such a great time. It might not be equally easy to love all of you campers, but that’s the secret to being a great camp counselor.

Silly Kids Camp Yoga Posing
Kids Camp Yoga Pose

Mary Alice Martin has returned this summer to teach our girls Yoga. Held in the Hillside Lodge, which is one of the original stone lodges built in the 1920s, the classes have plenty of room to spread out their yoga mats on the hardwood floor. Mary Alice plays quiet, calming music to encourage relaxation while the girls stretch to warm up, and then introduces a series of yoga poses ranging from easy basic positions like the “Child’s Pose” to more complex examples like the “Side Crane” pose. She’ll also sometimes play a game she calls “Freeze Yoga,” where she plays more uptempo music, and when she stops it suddenly, the girls have to quickly perform a different yoga pose. That too is a lot of fun.

Kid at Camp Loves the Waterslide

This photograph of Sophia conveys beautifully the total delight of our giant water slide,”Big Samantha.” After crossing the dock on the far side of the lake, over the bridge near the waterfall, and climbing the tower steps, it’s a nice long ride down the slippery tarp material before being launched out into the lake. Some girls will hold their nose before hitting the water, and others just fist pump the air and scream their heads off! Either way, it’s a short swim to reach the ladders by the dock, and an easy walk back around to slide again. We open the water slide during both free swim periods (before lunch and dinner), giving all of the girls who passed their swim “demonstration,” even the smallest juniors, plenty of chances to take a ride. For some, that means multiple times each day!

I try not to talk about the weather much in these posts (After all, there are so many more interesting things going on!), but it has been a wonderful week with sunny warm days, the occasional afternoon thunderstorm, and cool evenings.

Finally, I wanted to highlight this photo taken down at the Rockbrook Rifle Range. I just love the smile, the pink hearing protection, the rifle named “Annie Oakley,” and the feeling of relaxed assurance it conveys. Learning to shoot a real .22 caliber rifle can be a little daunting, but these Rockbrook girls are taking to it wonderfully. Odds are you’ll be hearing about the bullseye club very soon.

Camp kid posing while shooting a rifle

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