To all the first time counselors, congratulations you’ve made one of the best decisions you could possibly make … trust me, I made it three years ago. Getting to this point is an achievement in itself, the process isn’t easy, and the list of things to do at times seems endless, but the good times are coming.
As a first time counselor at Camp Wekeela, this summer at camp will mean more to you than you could possibly imagine, not only to you, but to your campers. Now that I am returning to Wekeela for my third year (yay 3 year hoodie), I can offer a little bit of insight into what to expect, but perhaps the most prominent piece of advice I can give is that the experience is entirely yours for the making. Before I arrived for my first summer, I felt I knew a little bit about what to expect. I did my research, watched the camp videos, read countless ‘First time counselor’ forums, and thought I’d established enough of an understanding of what I was walking into. I quickly realized that I really only knew the foundations of what I was set to learned over the seven weeks that followed. So try not to feel overwhelmed on arrival, just be prepared to roll up your sleeves and learn the ropes!
Everyone’s experience varies, but I can say with full of confidence, that there is nothing quite like your first summer. You will have the excitement of discovering for the first time for yourself what it means to be a camp counselor. When the summer is over, there are few days that go you won’t find yourself drifting into your own memories of camp. I often think about the first act of kindness I got from a returning staff member on a chilly June night during Staff Week in 2017. You’ll recall teaching a camper how to paint something that makes them happy in Creative Arts or how you would look down into big hopeful eyes, while trying your best to answer that meaningful question that your camper just asked you. You think of the rainy days that saw you sprint alongside your entire cabin to get to the dining hall only slightly drenched. Or the inimitable feeling of going from strangers to family as you glance around at the faces during the final campfire of the summer; as you feel tears start to slowly flow down your face. But it’s ok because you tell yourself that everything is fine, because you’re coming back. … Read More
Last spring we were fortunate enough to meet one of the world’s best mind’s on childhood. As big of a camp champion as you will ever meet, Wendy Mogel, PhD, truly understands and knows the power that summer camp can have on children. Dr. Mogel is an author of several parenting books, including, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, The Blessing of a B Minus, and most recently, Voice Lessons for Parents: What to Say, When to Say It, and When to Listen, “help parents and other child caregivers avoid the pitfalls of perfectionism, overprotection, overscheduling, and overindulgence, and engage with children in ways that nurture, enrich, and encourage.” In her lecture that we attended about Voice Lessons, Dr. Mogel gave some wonderful insight into the language and manner in which we as parents, childhood professionals, and camp directors speak with all children.
Dr. Mogel’s recent interview “Voice Lessons for Camp” with Camping Magazine sparked our interest. In the interview, Dr. Mogel said she wished that camps provide parents with a set of things that they would be worried about… but shouldn’t. What she called, an emotional packing list. We thought it was as great idea, so decided to make one for our Wekeela families. Below you will find our comprehensive list of “Camp Wekeela’s Emotional Packing List for Parents”
Do you have any communication advice for camp professionals in talking with parents?
I want camps to prepare parents, talk about things they are going to be worried about but don’t need to be. Give parents an emotional packing list before camp starts. Camp directors may fear that if they name the worries, parents will start ruminating on them, but it normalizes and nationalizes the fear. You can say, “You’re going to worry about this and this. Here’s what we have in place to deal with that. Expect your children to voice their concerns.” Then tell them the high rate of returning campers you have.
Things you may be worried about but do not need to be…..
Who takes care of my child when I send them to camp?
Counselors, cabin leaders, peers, nurses, directors– we all take care of each other.
How do you screen your applicants?
Interviews, references, criminal background checks.
Do the counselors live in the bunks with the children and what is the supervision like?
Yes, there are at least 6 counselors per bunk, and they sleep in the cabin. There is always an adult with the campers.
Is there security from outsiders?
Yes, there are gates at each entrance.
What happens if my child gets hurt?
We have a health center run by nurses & EMT’s. There are two major hospitals nearby.… Read More