Once you get to summer camp you will quickly discover there are certain things that, as a camp counselor, it is 100% required that you do, and a few other things that you should definitely stay away from doing, not only for the benefit of the kids and their experience, but also for your own sanity and experience and that of the people around you too!
Do keep an open mind. About everything.
Don’t judge people on first meeting. You will meet a lot of people at camp from all walks of life, some of whom will end up being your best friends.
Do throw yourself into absolutely everything during staff training. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed at first, or don’t understand something. Everyone has felt like that at some point.
Do learn that it’s ok to ask for help. In fact, sometimes it’s totally necessary.
Don’t forget to set an alarm. Your kids will not always wake you up. “Oh but we thought you looked so peaceful, we didn’t want to wake you!”
Do learn everything there is to know about all your campers. Know their birthdays, their dog’s name, what they’re reading, what their favourite colour is and (definitely) what they’re allergic to.
Don’t have innapropriate relationships with a Junior Counselor. Or a camper. Ever.
Do dress up in ridiculous clothes on every possible occasion. And then do it again for no reason whatsoever.
Don’t get too wrapped up in your own dramas (and there will dramas). Remember that you are there for the kids.
Do go to bed early every once in a while. You’ll thank youself for it in the morning.
Don’t forget to put on sunscreen! Especially if you’re a lifeguard!
Do teach all your classes with the same level of enthusiasm and attention, even if it’s the last week of camp and you never want to see another tennis racket ever again!
Don’t hide away if you feel homesick. Talk to someone, it happens to everyone.
Do join in with all the singing and dancing. All the time.
Don’t ever forget to make sure your campfire is 100% out. Always pour that extra bucket of water onto it, just in case!
Do learn how to make the ultimate s’more. It’s all about getting that perfect golden brown outer layer on the marshmallow.
Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself every now and again.
Do rock the tie dye.
Don’t worry about showering too much, or make up, or dealing with your hair. It’s camp.
Do act ‘childlike’, not ‘childish’. Retain a certain level of responsibility, even whilst playing the most intense game of Capture the Flag that has ever been played in the history of summer camp.
Don’t let your kids think they can get away with anything. Set some ground rules and follow through with everything you say.
Do try absolutely everything once. It’s not just the kids that get to have new and awesome experiences!
What other dos and don’ts do you have for summer camp? I’m sure there’s a whole lot more!
7 thoughts on “The Dos & Don’ts of Summer Camp Life”
I LOVE “act ‘childlike’, not ‘childish'” what a great phrase, I’m so borrowing that. 🙂
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It’s a classic saying at my camp!
Thanks for posting this! It is a great summary of some of the key lessons we learn whether a first time staff member or someone returning for the nth summer at a camp.
Thanks so much! Really pleased you enjoyed it!
Thanks so much! Very pleased you enjoyed it!
This summer is going to be my first time at camp and this article really helps! thanks!
Glad I could help! Have an incredible summer!