1. You automatically become a role model.
It’s up to you whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Your campers will look up to you, younger staff will look up to you.
It’s a big responsibility and whilst it can be a really cool thing, it’s important you realise this. You have the power to help a new generation of young people be the best they can be and that is such a powerful experience. Use it wisely.
2. Kids see everything and are aware are everything.
Not speaking to a fellow counsellor, never agreeing with them? Your kids will pick up on it. They will know when or how to use this to their advantage. Alternatively it’ll get to them and they’ll feel put in an awkward situation.
If you’re checking your phone a lot or desperate to get away from them… they’ll pick up on it and it’s not fair. They’re only kids and for a lot of them summer camp is the peak of their year, the week they look forward to the most, don’t make them for guilty for wanting your attention because you want longer at staff snack bar.
Not to mention, flirting with your crush/summer fling, or even pushing boundaries enough to show P.D.A? Not okay. Ever. Doesn’t matter how discrete they are, you’re kids will notice and it puts you in a situation you don’t want to be in.
3. Prepare to be more tired than you’ve ever been before
Yet always have the energy for one more round of Capture the Flag or Dodgeball.
You’ll complain about having to stay up for night duty but on nights off stay up that late anyway spending time with friends.
It’s the type of tired which in any other place in the world or in any other job you’d be like no thanks, but at summer camp? It’s because you’re having too much fun.
4. Fancy dress.
You can make fancy dress out of anything!
You can come up with an outfit in around 5 minutes or less and often this will be all the time you have.
You’d be surprised just how much dressing up there is, both planned and spontaneous.
5. If you’re international be prepared to hear how cute your accent is on a regular basis.
But also prepared for them to guess completely the wrong country when guessing where you’re from!
6. Bring some nice clothes but don’t expect to wear them around camp!
Everything will get dirty on camp. Even on days where you didn’t think anything would happen all of a sudden you’re covered in mud from an intense game of Capture the Flag or you’ve been volunteered for a skit at campfire that leads to being covered in whipped cream or shampoo and toothpaste.
Days off, however, do become an event. Never did I think I’d dress up so much for bowling and make-up is a thing of the outside world. Between lake swim, pool lifeguard and the sweat of running around looking after kids all day, its not worth the upkeep! It’s a strange adjustment to make up on days off and clear skin on days at work. Not to mention the end of season banquet, all the stops come out then!
7. The bond you make with the people around you will last a lifetime.
It sounds cliched I know but trust me. You’re in a high stress environment, away from friends and family, you’re bound to bond. You won’t be close to everyone but the people who you are closest with stay in your life. It can be hard to keep up long distance friendships but when you have all the stories you have from camp and you’ve seen each other under such a microscope, it’s just that little bit easier. I have friends from each summer. I can go months without speaking to them and as soon as we talk it’s back to normal.
8. Colour Wars is legit.
If you know anyone that has previously been to camp, you’ll have heard of Colour Wars. Each camp does a different event for Colour Wars so don’t expect your friends experience to prepare you! However, just go with it. It’s always a fantastic day, stressful but so much fun. Generally it’s a day where general activities don’t happen and a camp wide series of events happen. Make the most of it. If you’re lucky enough or rather, if you’ve worked hard enough and are selected to be a captain, realise how special that is and have the best day.
9. It’s all about the kids.
Whilst you will have the time of your life, ultimately the experience is for the kids. It’s your job to make sure they are having the best time, not you but them.
Trust me though, what you get out of helping the kids have fun, seeing their excitement, and helping that homesick kid make friends then cry at the end of the week because they dont wont to leave will make the summer experience that much better for you
10. Camp sickness is a real thing.
You’ve heard of homesickness, you’ve dealt with it all summer with your kids but once the summer is over get ready to deal with your own version: camp sickness. You’ll catch yourself bringing camp up in the majority of conversations, being attached to your phone in communication with camp friends and planning your application for next year. It never goes away and I wish I could say it gets easier but I’m going back to camp full time, so who am I to say that?