When people ask me what I’m doing this summer and I tell them that I am working as a counselor at camp, they often respond with snarky laugh or comment, something along the lines of them not thinking I’m doing anything serious. My response? Being a camp counselor is one of the hardest jobs, if not THE hardest job a college student could choose to spend their summers doing. Here’s why:
1. Children are INSANE.
You may be working in an office all summer with people that you don’t like, dealing with activities that are not exactly fun, but spend an hour with 5-year-old boys and I promise you will think your job is a breeze. Imagine a day where sitting at a desk was not an option. Camp counselors have to run around all day, constantly smiling and full of enthusiasm. It is amazing how children cannot stay in the same place for more than .5 seconds!
2. Counselors literally have these kids lives in their hands.
Parents send their kids off to camp and go to their respective jobs with the upmost confidence that their child will return home in the same fashion. Sometimes these kids could be as young as 3 years old! And camps are not exactly “baby proof”; a lot of things could happen that have the potential to put kids in a dangerous situation. They say parenting is the hardest job in the world, and being a counselor is like having the opportunity to act like a parent. Speaking of whom, all your camper’s parents WILL be up your butts the entire summer, because “for the amount of money we pay” Johnny better be having the summer of his life.
3. 7 hours of heat.
Summers can get brutally hot, but camp definitely doesn’t stop when the sun comes out. Counselors have to be on their feet running after their kids regardless of the weather. All. Day. So yes, there are nights where I fall asleep before 9pm.
4. Kids hear EVERYTHING.
So you have to watch what you say. All the time. Because if you start ranting to your co counselor about how crazy your weekend was, the kids WILL go home and tell their parents about it.
5. Your wants and needs are not important.
Don’t like swimming? Well that’s too bad because you have to go in the pool and you are going to act like you are loving every second of it.
6. How you handle situations will impact your camper’s future.
From teaching a camper how to shoot a basketball, dealing with a fight between two friends, to even helping someone overcome a fear of dunking their head under water; everything counselors do will be brought with the campers for the rest of their lives. No pressure.
Yes, being a camp counselor is incredibly difficult, but it is also extremely rewarding. At 18 years old, I am already learning things about how to be a good parent, something that one day will be my most important job. So hold your feelings of disapproval when someone tells you they are working at camp instead of an internship that will look good on their resume. There is no way I would rather spend my summers than with experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.