I often get asked by family and friends who have never worked at camp and don’t really know anything about it what the kids who go to summer camp are like. It’s quite a tough question to answer because while there isn’t really one description to cover them all, there is also a very simple (and unsatisfying) answer.
And that answer is that kids are kids. Sure, different countries and cultures will affect some aspects of their behaviours and attitudes, but generally speaking, all kids need the same sort of care and attention, so whether you’re looking after 25 American 12 year-olds, or 12 Australian 8 year-olds (I have also worked at an awesome Day Camp in Sydney), or just babysitting the kids down the street, your job remains the same.
But I suppose that’s not really what people mean when they ask about the kids at summer camp, is it? They’re asking if the kids are polite or rude, rich or poor, bratty or superbly well behaved. And if you’re thinking about applying to work at summer camp (go on, do it, you know you want to), then you’re probably wondering about what kind of children you’re going to be stuck with all summer too, right?
The answer really depends on what kind of camp you end up working at. And even then, there’s no hard and fast rule. You could be at the biggest, richest, private camp in America, or a much smaller, underprivileged, diverse camp and anywhere in between, and you will still find a mixture of kids from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and attitudes at all of them.
I’m not going to lie to you and say that every child that I’ve worked with at summer camp has been a total pleasure – there have definitely been some kids that, let’s just say… I haven’t warmed to, or vice versa – but on the whole, children are generally pretty awesome. And if you’re applying to work at summer camp, then you already know that!
You will meet:
Cool kids, rich kids, poor kids, spoiled kids, goofy kids, loner kids, bratty kids, polite kids, shy kids, kind kids, sporty kids, dorky kids, arty kids, loud kids, confident kids, awkward kids, angry kids, rude kids, scared kids, homesick kids, stylish kids, funny kids, AWESOME kids, and many more…
There are some kids at summer camp that you will always connect with more than others, and there are some that drive you totally insane and you just don’t know how to get through to them. Sure, you might end up with total spoiled brats, or you might have the coolest, kindest kids on camp in your bunk, but whoever you end up with, it’s your job to work with those children to the best of your ability to help them have an incredible time at summer camp, and maybe bring out some sides of them that they didn’t even know existed.
And that’s really the best part – you get to meet all these amazing children and spend your summer getting to know them, and letting them get to know you. Working with the kids ( whomever they may be, or whatever they may be like) to help them grow in so many different ways, whether it be in building their confidence by helping them overcome their fear of heights on the climbing wall, or teaching them a new skill as you help them sail across the lake, or even something as simple as giving them a hand in making a few new friends.
So you see, it’s not so much about what the kids are like at camp, but more about what you’re going to be like with them.