Fun: whether you’re working in the computer room or the speedboat, you’re there to entertain the kids. The best and most popular counselors will be able to think up games and make the campers laugh at the drop of a hat.
Patient: boy oh boy do you need to be patient. The kids will drive you crazy, but you can’t let them, you must be able to stay calm in all situations. Any aggression – whether verbal or physical – is not welcome at camp, and you will get fired.
Diurnal and nocturnal: basically you need to be able to stay awake for at least 17 very active hours a day. Time off is rare and you don’t want to miss out on anything. If you find it hard to get up in the mornings, you’re going to need to have a strong word with yourself.
Easygoing: you need to be able to go with the flow. Anyone who likes to indulge in a grande latte at 8:27am, partake in a spot of yoga at 10:30am and take lunch in the drawing room at 12:34pm will not do well at camp. You need to adapt to the camp’s way of life, learn to get on with your counselors and adjust at a moment’s notice.
Friendly: the kids need to know you’re approachable, the parents need to trust you enough to leave their kids with you and the other counselors will want to be your friend, so make sure you have your best friendly front on at all times.
Hardworking: possibly even more than hardworking – assiduous, diligent and tireless. Working out in the sun all day after a hard night’s partying will test anyone’s work ethic, but you can’t skive off for a sleep in this job. Ahem, errrm, my book might possibly suggest otherwise. Oops. Well you’re not meant to.
Quick-thinking: you need to be prepared for anything. A child could have a fit, two kids could be tearing each other apart, some kid might fancy you – you need to know how to react in all these situations, and worse. Your mind should be agile so you know what to do immediately in any predicament.
Confident: you will be asked to do some ridiculous things at camp – get on stage and pretend to be a crocodile, join in the staff show, get the kids dancing – you need to do it straight away and not feel self-conscious or silly. That’s what you’re there for.
Astute: you should be in tune with your kids. Sometimes you need to do the guess work that something is wrong with them before they actually tell you. You need to be aware of their moods and act on anything out of the ordinary. Kids get homesick/bullied/sad – you need to notice if it’s happening to any of your kids and do something about it.
Inspirational: no matter what you’re teaching at camp, or even if you’re a general counselor, you need to inspire the children. You should be a role model and someone they aspire to be like. I definitely regret some of the things I did at camp in front of the children – you need to remember you’re with kids and sometimes that can be hard when they seem so much older. Act as you would want your child’s (if you had one) counselor to be and you’ll do well.
This is definitely not a definitive list, as a camp counselor you will draw on skills and attributes you never knew you had, but just to give you a heads up on a few of them!