At some point in your application for summer camp you probably wrote something along the lines of ‘I love working with children’. Unless you have unusual living arrangements, you probably wrote this without having 10-15 children hanging out around you, trying on your clothes while having a competition to see who can do the best impression of you.
For the majority of your time you’ll love your campers, but there will be occasions that will want to make you want to revisit your application and scribble out every single mention of the word ‘children’. The best start you can have is to be prepared for arrival day at camp before it happens…
Arrival day at camp
Life at camp is hectic. Life at camp is crazy. There is no better example of this than Arrival Day. The few hours before and after your campers arrive will be the most exciting, busy and terrifying time at camp, especially as you’ll have no idea who (or what) will be arriving. What you can do is prepare yourself as well as possible during Orientation at camp.
On the morning that the campers were due to arrive at my camp, my director gathered all of the counselors together and told us that a tidal wave was going to hit camp in a few hours.
‘Are you ready?’ he asked us.
The majority of the counselors looked puzzled. We were about 3 hours from the coast. Unless it was a MASSIVE wave, we were in no immediate danger. He continued talking and it became clear that the tidal wave was a metaphor. The wave was not made up of water. Instead, it was made up of the giddy excitement, testosterone, oestrogen, hopes and dreams of the 500 children who were soon going to be arriving.
Before your campers arrive, work with your co-counselors so that you have a plan for the first few hours. Your campers will want to have fun and enjoy the start of camp. If you’ve not planned anything, it could make for an uncomfortable first few hours.
Don’t let them scare you!
When the campers write their first letters home, you’ll want them to write something along the lines of ‘My new counselors are awesome!’ rather than ‘My counselors sat perfectly still and stared at me for 2 hours when I arrived.’ Interact with your campers. Get to know them. If they’re new to camp, take them for a look around. Whatever you do… do something!