Except for a few exceptions, summer camp is for kids, an experience that ends with high school graduation. For those who love it, this can be a sudden even, but despite having grown up, those who really love it tend to return to their old stomping grounds. College students, in particular, want to relive their camp experience after they turn in term papers and finals: just as workers, not campers. Since college affords a nice summer break, many people hope to fill their free time as Christian camp counselors, but only a few are really qualified. We at Deer Creek know how integral great counselors are to a great camp experience, so we’ve identified a handful of qualities we consider important to the job.
- Discerning. Camp tends to be a lot of fun, but that doesn’t guarantee every personality will mesh well in a cabin. Kids can put on a good face and feign excitement in a crowd, but Christian camp counselors need to be able to see how their campers are honestly fairing. If someone feels left out, sick, or scared, counselors have to discern those hidden feelings in order to address them and make campers feel welcome, better, and more at peace.
- Empathetic. Even high school campers can get homesick, and the best Christian camp counselors will be sensitive to and understanding about this. Their counselor should be the primary person campers trust, and that trust is often built upon a caring, sensitive spirit. Even if kids are being irrational, which they often are, a good counselor will be mature enough to see past that and care for them regardless.
- Fun. This often defines a camp experience, so we think it should define our counselors too. Empathy and discernment are critical, but camp isn’t just about sitting around, discussing feelings. It’s about enjoying the outdoors, making new friends, experiencing God in a new, exciting way, and just having a good time. Christian camp counselors should love to have fun as much as their campers. Excitement and joy are infectious, so the more fun a counselor can have, the more their campers will have.
- Experienced. Especially if they’re attending camp for the first time, kids can find the whole concept a little daunting. It might be the first time they’ve been away from family, their first experience with the outdoors, or the only time they’ve been surrounded by so many peers and so few adults. They look to their Christian camp counselors for direction and guidance, so those counselors need to know the process well themselves. The best tend to be former campers, but others can learn the ropes quickly through orientation and exploring the campgrounds on their own.
- Respectable. Parents send their kids to camp for a variety of reasons, but if they’ve chosen a Christian camp, they’re probably hoping their kids will grow in faith. Seeing a young adult, really living his or her faith, can finally make Jesus become alive. Christianity can seem like a Sunday thing to kids, or just what their parents believe. Christian camp counselors can shatter that notion by being the first young, cool Christian that kids encounter. That’s a respectable role. We look for counselors who are worthy of such respect, men and women who serve as role models and Christians who really exude the light of Christ.