Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Pendalouan's Summer Camp Counselors

At Pendalouan, we know how important it is to have a qualified, capable, safe and fun staff. Our camp counselors are at the heart of the summer camp experience, making sure our campers have life-changing experiences, while providing a nurturing and safe environment.

We are currently hiring staff for Summer 2013 and we are on the lookout for safety-minded young people who are eager to promote individual character development in our campers in a fun, engaging way.

In about 4 months, the Summer 2013 staff will gather here on the shores of Big Blue Lake for a week of Staff Orientation, where they will receive extensive training in child safety, youth development, and activity instruction. One of the first things we'll do is share this short essay with them. This decades-old letter is used in staff trainings throughout the country to help frame the role of counselors and to get them excited for the summer ahead.

In the next two months, we'll start introducing the Summer 2013 staff right here on the camp blog. But before then, get a taste of what being a camp counselor is like by reading the still-relevant essay below. It will help portray what we look for and expect of our staff; to be caring, responsible young adults who are ready and eager to make a positive impact in the lives of their campers. Enjoy.

Phyllis M. Ford
Camping Magazine, March 1965

Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood there occurs in human development an age that is physically and psychologically impossible. It is that unfathomable stage known as the camp counselor: a creature undefined by psychologists, misunderstood by camp directors, worshiped by campers, either admired or doubted by parents, and unheard 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 a refrigerator. She is a strict disciplinarian with a twinkle in her eye; a minister to all faiths with questions about his own. She is a referee, a coach, a teacher, and an advisor. He is the example of manhood in worn-out tennis shoes, a sweatshirt two sizes too large, and a hat two sizes too small. She is a humorist in a crisis, a doctor in an emergency, a songleader, an entertainer, a play director. He is an idol with his head in a cloud of wood smoke and his feet in the mud. She is a comforter in a leaky tent on a cold night and a pal who has just loaned someone her last pair of dry socks. He is a teacher of the out-of-doors, knee deep in poison ivy. 

Counselors dislike reveille, waiting in line, inspection, and rainy days. They are fond of sunbathing, exploring, teaching new games, and days off. They are handy for patching up broken friendships, bloody noses, and torn jeans. They are good at lost bathing suits, fixing axe handles, playing the uke, and catching fish. They are poor at crawling out on rainy mornings and getting to bed early. A counselor 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 Lummi Sticks in succession, whistle “Dixie” through her fingers, carry two packs, stand on his hands, and sing 37 verses of “You Can’t Get to Heaven”?

A counselor is expected to repair 10 years of damage to Susie in 10 days, make Jerry into a man, rehabilitate Carrie, allow Paul to be an individual, and help Jenny adjust to the group. He is expected to lead the most prized possession of 16 adults much older than he. She is expected to lead them in fun and adventure…even when her head aches; teach them to live in the outdoors…even thought he spends nine months a year in Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles; to teach indigenous activities…when she can’t even spell it; to guide them in social adjustment…when he hasn’t found it himself; to ensure safety and health…with a sunburned nose, a Band-Aid on her thumb, and a blister on her heal.

For all this they are paid enough to buy the second text in psychology, some aspirin, some new socks, and some new tennis shoes. You wonder how they can stand the pace and the pressure. You wonder if they really know how much they are worth, and somehow, you realize you can never pay them enough when, as they leave in August, they wave goodbye and say, “See ya next year!”

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YMCA Camp Pendalouan is a fully accredited resident and day camp. While at Pendalouan, kids and teens make friends, create life long memories, and learn new skills all the while having fun in a safe environment. At Pendalouan, you are a part of a family and campers are led by highly qualified and trained staff. If you would like to learn more about Camp Pendalouan, check out our website, the Camp Blog and our Facebook page.

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