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Counselor Confidential: Adventures in Learning and Leadership

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

What I learned from my first summer camp counselor job

Can you go back and think about an eye-opening and inspiring experience you had? For me, it was when I held a position as a Summer Camp Counselor for neurodiverse children at the YMCA this past summer. When I go back in time and think about the experience, I remember seeing the smiles of all the cheerful children walking into camp at 8 a.m., tasting the morning Chick-fil-A sandwich we were given, feeling the cool pool water on my body on a hot summer day, smelling the popcorn the kids would eat during movie time and lastly, remember hearing the song “Best of Both Worlds” by Hannah Montana playing, as the kids walk out at 2 pm. 

Role of a leader: to a camper & a Counselor

At camp, it was always important for us as counselors to put 110% energy into the kids because their energy would often reflect off our energy. Throughout my time at the Y, I learned that being a leader to the kids was more than just setting down the rules to follow. Rather, my ability to lead and guide campers by showcasing my enthusiasm and interest is what set me apart. Additionally, a good leader is essentially a great listener and communicator. It was important for me as a counselor to effectively hear out what the kids wanted and cater to their needs. Keeping this in mind, it allowed me to understand the triggers and solutions for each child. Along with that, our job as counselors was to share with each other our experiences to build a network of trust and collaboration. This is to say – teamwork is vital. As counselors, our ability to work together to manage a group of kids and organize activities mirrors our ability to collaborate harmoniously. Over the course of my summer, I understood that there are many elements such as energy & positivity, active listening, and teamwork that build an amazing leader – for the campers and counselors:)

What I’m most proud of

Setting myself out of my comfort zone and applying for a leadership role as a camp counselor this past summer is something I am proud of. I came in with the knowledge knowing I would be helping neurodiverse children and I am more than content with the experience I had making a difference in those kids’ lives. The emotions, connections, and bonds that were made will forever be carried into their lives and hopefully they will always cherish and remember it.

Opportunity to grow

Every experience is meant to teach you a lesson, whether it is good or bad. I learned a lot from this experience but there is always room for improvement. For me, I lacked confidence when it came to leading kids in games- which stems from my anxiety or introverted behavior I display in a group of new people. Fortunately, camp was a place where we were open and shared feedback with each other. I was able to work on these things when the opportunities arose. For example, if another co-counselor was unable to participate in an activity, I’d go ahead and take the initiative with my duties. 

With that said, I’d encourage everyone to take on a new role, job, activity, or hobby because you never know what great things you can learn or accomplish until you try it. This was definitely an eye-opening experience, and the memories will forever be remembered!!

Tejal is a writer for Her Campus magazine, a Gemini, and lover of boho-chic fashion. Outside of Her Campus, Tejal is a fellow brother in the professional co-ed business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi currently holding the role of a Director of Marketing and has held a role in the Mental Health Committee and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She has created an impact by finding ways for other brothers to spread positivity, display acts of kindness, research mental health resources. She has also helped a few non-profits in her previous role as a consultant with 180 Degrees Consulting which has allowed her clients to advance business performances, boost social media engagement, and implement talent acquisition initiatives. She is a junior at North Carolina State University and studying Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. After graduation, she hopes to move to New York, back to the Bay Area or D.C., and work for a fashion-related or biopharmaceutical company as a Marketing/Sales campaign director. Tejal was born and brought up in the Bay Area in California and moved to North Carolina when she was 11 with her parents and younger brother. She enjoys painting, shopping, reading, listening to new music, cooking, and exploring around with her. She is an avid Lana del Rey fan along with The Weeknd. Her favorite movies are all 8 Harry Potter films!