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Camping Association of Nova Scotia - Camp Counselors

Camp Counselors

Are you a first time counselor? You probably feel really excited and a little bit nervous.

Below is a list of tips and ideas from experienced staff who've been where you are now - and lived to tell about it!!

Help!! I'm a First Time Counselor!

What is a Camp Counselor?

What is a Camp Counselor

(Dr. Phyllis M. Ford)

          Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood there occurs in human development an age which is physically and psychologically impossible. It is that unfathomable stage known as the camp counselor: a creature undefined by psychologists, misunderstood by camp directors, worshipped by campers, either admired or doubted by parents and unheard of by the rest of society. 

          A camp counselor is a rare combination of doctor, lawyer, Indian and chief. She is a competent child psychologist with her sophomore textbook as proof. He is an underpaid babysitter with neither television nor refrigerator.  She is a strict disciplinarian with a twinkle in her eye: A minister to all faiths with questions about her own. He is a referee, a coach, a teacher, and an advisor. She is the example of adulthood in worn out tennis shoes; a sweatshirt two sizes too large, and a hat two sizes too small. He is a doctor in an emergency, a song leader, an entertainer, a play director. She is an idol with her head in the cloud of wood smoke and her feet in the mud. He is a comforter in a leaky tent on a cold night. and a pal who has lent someone his last pair of dry socks. She is a teacher of the out-of-doors, knee-deep in poison ivy.

          Counselors dislike reveille, waiting in lines, inspections, and rainy days. They are fond of sunbathing, teaching new games, an old car named Henrietta and days off. They are handy for patching up broken friendships, bloody noses and torn jeans. They are good at locating lost bathing suits, fixing ax handles, playing the uke and catching fish. They are poor at crawling out on rainy days, remembering the salt or first-aid kit and getting to bed early. 

          A counselor is a friendly guide in the middle of a cold dark rainy night on the long winding trail to the latrine. He is a dynamo on a day off, exhausted the next day but recuperated in time for the next day off .

         Who but a counselor can cure homesickness, air out wet bedding, play 16 games of lumme sticks in succession, whistle "Dixie" through his fingers, carry two packs, speak Pig Latin in French, stand on his hands, sing 37 verses of "You Can't Get to Heaven" and eat four helpings of Sunday dinner?

         A counselor is expected to repair 10 years of damage to Julie in 10 days, make Tommy a new man, rehabilitate Susan, allow Paul, to be an individual and help Alice adjust to the group. She is expected to lead them in fun and adventure-- even when her head aches, teach them to live in the out-of-doors even though she spends nine months of the year in New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles, teach them ingenious activities--when she can't even spell it, guide them in social adjustment-- when she hasn't even reached the voting age, ensure safety and health--with a sunburned nose, a band-aid on her thumb and a blister on her heel.

          For all this, he is paid enough to buy the second text in psychology, some aspirin, some new socks, two new tires for Henrietta and some new tennis, shoes. You wonder how she can stand the pace and the pressure. You wonder if he really knows how much he is worth and somehow, you realize you can never pay him enough when he leaves in August, he waves good-by and says "See ya next year" .

 

 

See our page for counselling positions.

To connect with other camp staff visit our CANS Forum