6 Things I Learnt From Summer Camp USA With BUNAC
Jayshree looks into more depth about what important life skills Summer Camp USA can teach you. Although eating s'mores lakeside and road tripping America are part of the fun, there is so much more to Summer Camp USA...
No two days at camp will ever be the same. One of the biggest skills that summer camp had helped me to develop is my ability to think on my feet. It’s almost a certainty at some points, maybe even several points, throughout the summer things won’t always go to plan. I have learned how to think quickly for solutions. This could be anything from a large-scale power outage that shuts down half of camp, to a small problem such as running late on your schedule. The most important thing to consider is how the campers will react, you want to make sure that whatever you are doing is in the best interest of the campers and that no matter what they are safe and enjoying themselves.
What it means to work 'in loco parentis'
My parents always told me ‘there are some things you just won’t understand until you’re a parent yourself’. Maybe that is true, but I think that being a Camp Counsellor is possibly the next best thing. Each group of campers I had and every camper I spoke to during my summer; they were all my kids. It’s funny but you really would do anything for each and every one of those kids. From exterminating the monsters under the bed for the little ones, being really excited to hear all about the road trip they’re going on to visit their grandma the following week or saving them a seat at the table because they want to sit beside you at every breakfast, lunch and dinner. The bond you make with each child is special and as a teacher in training it really reinforces the notion of wanting to work with kids and knowing the importance of putting them before yourself, just as their own parents would.
Organisation and time management
In order to make sure that every camper gets the chance to make the most out of their camp experience it is important that as a counsellor you are organised and have good time management and organisational skills. For me this meant knowing my campers, what type of activities would they like to do and what they want to get out of their time at camp.
Working closely as a team
Everyone has the opportunity to work as a team throughout their lives, however nothing can prepare you for the close-knit team that you’ll be working alongside at camp. It truly is incredible; in such a short period of time you really do all become family. You learn how to lean on each other for support, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and soon enough you know each other so well it’s easy to lean on their strengths and even know when someone needs your help. That’s really what working with such a close team is about, you’ll be surprised by their support and you’ll know when someone needs your help.
What you mean to the kids
As corny and cliché as it sounds, campers do really look up to their counsellors like they’re superheroes. Its part of the magic of summer! I too was a non-believer, I thought camp just happened. The girls (I was at a girl scout camp!) go to camp every year there’s no way they remember all their counsellors. But this year I had girls asking me about the counsellors that they had years and years ago. You really do leave a lasting impression, so you want to make sure it’s the best! You also leave lasting positive change; kids really do idealise adults. Be the one they remember in 5-10 years’ time.
The importance of self care
Possibly the most important skill I learned while at camp was self-care. It is so important to take time out to look after yourself while on camp. This is also a valuable skill that I have translated into my everyday life. As someone who likes to always keep busy, sometimes I tent to take on too much and end up tiring myself out and not being able to give 100% in the activities that I am doing. Camp taught me that it’s okay to take a step back if you need to, and that its very important to self-regulate.