A letter to the camp counselors of the past, the present, and the future.
While this letter may be specific to the camp I’ve had the pleasure of working four summers at, I am sure much of what I write applies to most other camp counselor jobs out there. And heck, maybe this may even inspire you to work a summer at the same camp I’ve spent many summers at. I get a little emotional at the end of each summer and this is a bi-product of those emotions. So here goes nothing.
Dear Camp Counselor,
You are embarking on the journey of a lifetime. Many counselors have come before you. You have some big shoes to fill, but fear not, you are on your well on your way to a summer to remember. Everything you need to not only be successful, but happy in this job you already have within you. While it is always best to live and learn, I have some advice to share.
- This is not always an easy job, but boy is it worth it. This job has to be simultaneously one of the most challenging and easier jobs all at once. It is truly a test of our skills. It tests our ability to communicate, be responsible, mediate problems, and have fun.
- You will get stressed out, but don’t let the stress allow you to lose sight of the greatness at Blue Mountain Ranch (or any other youth camp). From morning hellos with Suzie (camp owner/director) and Patti (camp cook), to getting my just brushed hair messed up by Tim (director), this place is amazing. It is incredible how much you can learn from a 9 year old or even fiery, sassy 4 year old. You just have to allow yourself to come out of your shell open up to new ideas.
- You will make friendships that will last the test of time. I know you have heard this before but it’s an undeniable fact of this establishment. In a short window of time you will connect deeper with these people than you ever have before outside of this camp.
- There will be conflicts, but that’s human nature, just choose to rise above. Remember that you are part of a chain here. All links to this chain need to be strong. If one of these chain links weakens or falls apart you are no longer a part of an effective chain. When you have yourself a broke chain you have yourself a problem. You don’t want that kind of division as a staff.
- You will ugly cry at some point. You won’t know when, where, or sometimes even why but it will happen. It may happen expectantly, it may happen more than once. And if and when it does, you will have a whole staff waiting with open arms to support you.
- You will develop a lustful relationship with coffee, tea, and all things caffeine. Just go with it. You will have plenty of time to come off your caffeine problem when you return to the real world.
- You will find yourself busting ridiculous moves at a camp dance and think you look like an idiot and to look back and discover you’ve attracted a gaggle of idiots busting those very same ridiculous moves at you. It’s your time to shine, have fun with it, even if you think you can’t dance.
- Be patient. Seriously. Patience is considered a virtue for a reason. I say this because it is easy to lose sight of patience in the heat of the moment. But if you just pause, think, and reflect it will pay off.
- You will be foolish and think that you do not need to apply or reapply that sunscreen. You’re wrong. The truth is you needed to and will now regret it thinking otherwise. For the next few days, as you peer into the mirror you will see your reddened reflection looking back. And days later you will find yourself peeling chunks of skin from your shoulders.
- Be fearless. Take a risk. Take a chance. Try a new food. Instruct a new activity. Take a day off with the counselor you hardly know. Initiate a conversation with a camper you not yet have spoken to. You will be surprised by what you may learn both about yourself and others.
- Trust in your coworkers and the CITS (counselors in training). They are there for a reason. Sometimes it’s best to hand the torch over. It can open your horizons to fresh ideas. Delegating the leadership amongst your coworkers is the surest way to a strong team and an all-around positive experience.
- Remember to be a kid. Whether you are 7 or 27 it’s important to step back, be immature, and let out your uninhibited inner child.
- Blue Mountain Ranch will become a home to you. You will find yourself counting down the days until you can return to this place. You will find yourself doing everything in your power to make returning to Blue Mountain Ranch (or any children’s camp) a reality year after year.
- You may feel exhausted at times but Blue Mountain Ranch will weave its way into your stressed and exhausted heart and from then on it will always hold a special place.
- You will adapt an interesting fashion sense consisting of ridiculous fashion choices and questionable dirty clothes while here. This fashion sense is one in which is only appropriate under the confines of camp life.
- You will find yourself seated around the food box on a regular basis shoving your face with junk, even though you just waddled away from dinner stuffed to the brim.
- Above all else, above the Walmart trips, the showers where the water stops while you’ve got a head full of shampoo, the rained out meadow trips, and the times you’ve been fully clothes and thrown into the pool you will fall in love with this job. It will become your passion and all you talk about. Nothing compares to the fulfillment you will receive by holding a summer job as a camp counselor at Blue Mountain Ranch.
Don’t for a second take a moment of this life for granted. Each summer here is a gift and each summer it will become more and more difficult to make your way here. I promise that. Live it up, love every minute, and laugh as much as possible.
A counselor of the past, present, and the future.