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5 Quality Traits of a Great Camp Counselor

By Stacie Hoppman March 20, 2018

Whether you’re a parent who is thinking about sending your child to camp or a college student who is thinking about applying for a job, you might wonder what qualifications we look for in a camp counselor. After all, the counselor is one of the most important parts of the summer camp experience. It is the counselor who will take care of campers, ensuring that they change their clothes and brush their teeth and put on sunscreen. It is the counselor who will coax them to try something they might be afraid of, encourage them to eat their vegetables before diving into dessert, and enforce safety rules at the archery range.

Here at Camp Wyoming, we take great care to ensure that we hire quality counselors. Some people think that great counselors have to be bubbly and loud and energetic all the time, but we know these are just personality traits that describe some, but not all of the really wonderful people who serve in the counseling role. So what does it take to be amazing at this job? What do we look for when we hire staff for the summer? It can be hard to narrow down, because each person is so different, but here are five quality traits:

1. Positive Role Modeling. Being a counselor means that campers, young and old, are watching everything that you do. Some young adults struggle to grasp the weight of this responsibility. Do you live what you talk and profess to believe? When you get angry, how do you respond? When you are happy, how do you celebrate? Kids will mimic the behavior of their counselors, and it is important that their counselors serve as positive role models at camp, on campus, and at home.

2. Tenacity or grit. Let’s face it. Working at a summer camp can be difficult sometimes. A storm comes through and forces you to cancel your overnight trip and make a new plan. A homesick camper keeps you up late and you’re tired. A spilled tray of pancakes leaves you with no food at your cookout. Counselors with grit are not counselors who never fail or counselors who never have anything go wrong. Counselors with grit are those who work through the setbacks, roll with the punches, and do so with a willing and buoyant spirit. Tenacious counselors bounce back on their feet quickly after a change, and they don’t let mishaps affect their campers’ experience. Even if they aren’t thrilled about an assignment, activity, or adjustment, they move through and move on with a can-do attitude and a willingness to try.

3. Camper focused. Camp is super fun. Plenty of adults look at everything camp has to offer and say, “Can I come to camp?” Of course, when you are a counselor, you want to try bubble soccer and archery and kayaking and paint wars. You want to spend time with your counselor friends and make amazing memories just like the kids. However, if that is the primary reason why you are here, then we have a problem. We want people who are here because they want to provide a fun, Christ-centered experience for the campers who come. We want people who are going to invest in the lives of the kids at camp. Everything else is just a bonus to them.

4. Responsible. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it is very important. As a counselor, you are entrusted with a heavy burden. You are the one who needs to maintain the safety of your campers at all times. You are the one who needs to ensure they are having fun, who ensures they are eating three meals a day, who ensures that they are tucked in at night, who ensures that they are up and ready for the day. If you are careless, the consequences could be dangerous. We can’t afford to hire irresponsible staff.

5. Hard working. You can’t work at camp and be lazy. There just isn’t time for it. Unlike other jobs, this one has you running from time the sun rises until it sets (and even after that). When you choose to slack, your campers receive a second rate experience, and that just isn’t fair to them. The best counselors give every activity and every moment their all, like a soccer player that leaves everything he has on the field at the end of a game.

There are so many more things we could list as beneficial qualities in a camp counselor. Creativity. Initiative. A love for children and youth. Empathy. Attentiveness. Flexibility. Kindness. Communication. Leadership. Professionalism. Silliness. The list could go on and on. However, if you are a parent looking to send your child to camp this summer, know that Camp Wyoming hires really wonderful people as counselors, directors, instructors, and support staff. In fact, you can meet some of them by clicking here. If you are seeking employment and wondering if we might be a good fit for you this summer, check out our Apply for Summer Staff page or email