No matter where you were a counselor, I’m sure you can at least relate to a few of these commonalities. Being a counselor for two years, it is definitely one of the most exhausting, yet completely rewarding jobs there is. Being a former camper, I know that I looked to my counselors as role models, so I was so excited to be that positive influence for my campers and change their lives like my counselors did for me.
1. Always tired
No matter how much sleep you got the night before, you could always sleep more. The exhaustion of taking care of kids combined with the sun was a perfect recipe for sleep. However, that did not stop you from hanging out with friends on nights out.
2. Camp wrist
You probably left camp with a bunch of friendship bracelets from campers and fellow counselors. My campers would say “You need 7 bracelets to make a camp wrist!” The more bracelets you had, the cooler you were. You may even know how to make them yourself!
3. Friends around the world
Since most camps have an international staff, you probably made friends with people who live far away. Camp has given me a place to stay in many corners of the globe. It’s an amazing experience to learn about other cultures!
4. What are secrets?
If you worked at a sleepaway camp, you would know that there are no secrets. People find out everything whether you want them to or not.
5. Color War
Let’s be real, color war is for the counselors, right? You aspired to be on a color war leadership team, which was a validation that you did a good job throughout the summer. Painting cardboard, making songs, and cheering all day long. Explaining color war to people outside of camp is hopeless because no one will ever feel the stress and intensity unless they actually experienced color war.
6. The campers changed your life as much as you changed theirs
Time after time, the directors always said that being a counselor is one of the most rewarding jobs there is. The campers will look up to you as if you’re God, however you did not expect for them to have such a large impact on you in return. Being a camp counselor taught you a lot about yourself, empathy, and how to be a friend to younger kids.
7. Days and nights off
As much as you loved your summer job, you looked forward to your days and nights off. This is where you could see your friends who you barely get to see during the day, rest and recharge, and get some non-camp food! This is where most of the bonding occurred and you wouldn’t change them for the world, no matter how stressful or chaotic they got.
8. Being your true self without judgment
Signing up to be a camp counselor, you probably didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. Camp is one of the only places where you can truly be yourself, and it is thoroughly embraced. Dancing in the dining hall. Dressing up for spirit days. Screaming in color war. Everyone loves and embraces you, for you, with no judgment and that’s why camp is such a special place.
9. You tried something new!
Whether that be rock climbing, zip lining, circus, flying trapeze, water sports, or anything else, camp is a place with many different activities and hopefully you took advantage of at least one thing!
10. You dealt with many different situations
Being a camp counselor, you can never predict what kids will do. Whether that be them getting sick, arguments between campers, homesickness, or anything else imaginable, you were there for your campers. You were able to handle just about anything. Being a counselor is being a friend, a support system, role model, sibling, and caregiver all wrapped in one.
Everyone has co-counselors. Some are good, some are bad. Luckily for me, I had the best co-counselors. We all communicated and worked really well together. You can lean on them and work together to solve situations within the bunk together. My co-counselors turned out to be some of my closest friends of the summer and I think that had a positive influence on our campers as well.
Being a camp counselor you most certainly had to deal with this. Goodbyes to your campers and fellow counselor friends. The ending to a great summer and not knowing when you will see these people again. Camp is a special place where you meet the most amazing people. Saying goodbye is never easy, but knowing that you will always have a place back at camp is heartwarming.
13. Games and Icebreakers
Being a camp counselor also means being able to entertain kids! I always had numerous games and icebreakers that I could use with campers when they were bored and needed to be occupied. Many of the games are word puzzles or hand games, which the kids love! These were great for large groups and getting everyone engaged.
14. Trip Days
Trip days were either a lot of fun or very stressful for you at camp. Being in charge of 15 girls in public can be quite stressful, however, creating rules for your campers at water parks and amusement parks is essential to keeping them safe and having fun. You had to be with them at all times, and when they wanted to go to different rides, it was difficult to say no because you had to stay together as a group. Also, you had to be extra careful with allergies on those days and make sure that the kids did not buy anything with major allergens.
15. Everyone is your significant other
Whoever your campers saw you talking to, they immediately thought was your boyfriend. The camp dance was a huge deal, and they were determined to get you a date.
16. Tie Dye
You own at least one tie dye shirt. Who goes to summer camp and doesn’t make tie dye?
17. Staff Shirts
As annoying as they may have gotten, wearing staff shirts everyday was not so bad. You did not have to pick out an outfit everyday. You probably still have a few staff shirts laying around, too.
18. Visiting Day
Honestly, enough said. You have never seen anything like it—parents running to their children with bags of food and goodies for the bunk. The “midnight feast” as we called it at my camp always gave you a stomach ache, and there was always a large excess of uneaten food.
19. Camp songs
Even though you are not at camp anymore, everytime you hear “World’s Greatest”, you immediately think of camp.
There is nowhere more exciting in the world to receive mail than at camp. Your campers got mail everyday, so you probably told your friends and family to send you something too.