We asked our former staff what they wished someone would have told them before they came to work for us. Here’s what they said:
Your limits are not what you think they are. This job is not going to just be fun. It’s going to challenge you spiritually and emotionally. People often say, “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.” It’s something that really happens, and you’ll learn that you can do so much more than you ever thought possible. There’s no better way to learn about leadership than by working on a camp staff. (From Kaylee, Iowa State)
This may be the only time in your life that you will be in God’s creation literally24/7. You’re going to be surrounded by the majesty of nature, from towering trees to fragile flowers, from the drone of cicadas and the chirping of birds, from the brilliant sunrises and star-studded night skies. All of this will be your home. Now that I’m away, I miss it every day. Cherish it. (From Libby, Iowa State)
Take in every moment of camp. The summer will be over before you know it. Ten weeks sounds like a long time, but really, you’re going to blink, and the time will be gone. You will make some of the best friends and develop relationships that will last the rest of your life. You will meet some of the sweetest children who just want to spend time with you, have fun, and learn about God. It goes so fast, and every part is worth it! Summer camp doesn’t last forever. (From Shannon, University of Northern Iowa)
Enjoy every single day with the kids no matter what. Think about it: these kids are traveling away from home to spend a week with you. They’re excited, they’re nervous, they want an adventure! Every single moment you have with a child is a special one, and there will never be a better time or place to share Jesus with them. (From Shelby, Western Illinois University)
You can never have enough socks…ever. Walking in the morning dew or the rain, going creek stomping, accidentally stepping into the pond while bringing in a kayak…these things happen, so it’s good to have lots of extra socks (and shoes) so you’re not walking around with wet feet all the time. (From Mitch, Northeast Iowa Community College)
Spend time each day praying for the campers and other staff. These people are going to be part of your life for ten weeks. They come from all different backgrounds, lives, and experiences. They carry their own baggage, their own fears, and their own expectations. Pray for them. Ask God to meet them. Ask God to show you how you can minister to them. Pray for them every day. And then watch God work. (From Jake, University of Iowa)
You’re not there just for you. You’re there for the campers who look up to you and follow your leadership for that week. You’re there to build relationships and walk with your co-counselors and fellow staff members. You’re there to follow God and the call the serve. It’s such an amazing opportunity and experiene, so take it while you can. No matter your reason, it’s going to be the best summer of your life. (From Aubrey, St. Ambrose University)
Expect to grow up at camp (in a good way). When I hear people talk about camp I hear them talk about 2 things always. They learn more than they ever expected to and the impact on their life was far greater than they could have imagined. Camp makes people grow as a person to make decisions, build relationships, and especially learn about Christ. (From Thomas, Iowa State)
Don’t be afraid of the challenge. At first, it will all be overwhelming. You are responsible for so much at camp. However, you can do it. Don’t be afraid to make decisions in the moment, to step up and lead. You won’t feel prepared at first, but try. Fake it until you’re ready, and you’ll be amazing. If you can learn to face any challenge like that, you’ll be prepared for all of life. (From Gilberto, Technological Institute from Apizaco, Puebla, Mexico)
Your attitude matters. Sometimes the kids will complain about doing an activity, but when they see you out there having fun, they’ll want to join in, and at the end of the week, they’ll be telling you about how it was their favorite part of camp. (From Peter, LeTourneau University)
Allow yourself to be transformed and to transform others. By mid-September, you’ll look back and wonder where all the time went. But even when you aren’t at camp, you’ll have the memories. Those memories will include lifelong friendships with the staff, hilarious stories and games, and a trust that you helped many others along their faith journey. So do yourself a favor and live in the moment this summer. You’ll be all the better for it for the rest of your life. (From Michael C., Iowa State)
Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself or the situation and just move on. Camp can require you to do some pretty funny things: dress up in a dog costume, shout loud, obnoxious cheers for your cabin, dump over in your canoe—and you’ve got to be willing to laugh at yourself. The kids love it when you interact with them and show them that you’re a real person. Be silly. Admit when you mess up. Laugh. Move on. (From Kristen, University of Wisconsin)
Jump into every new experience or uncomfortable situation with positivity and smiles. Smiling will encourage yourself and others. Did you know that smiling is actually proven to make you less nervous? You are capable of growing and adapting, and you will do things you never thought you could do. From cleaning up after a camper wets the bed to zip-lining, you’ll do a lot of new things and it’s best to jump in head first. (From Ejanae, Midland University)
Relax and just breathe. Sometimes you’ll be tired, you’ll say something you shouldn’t, you’ll work with an age group that really challenges you…but God’s grace will pull you through it every time. Don’t be afraid to lean on your co-workers, either. They’re some of the best people you’ll ever meet, and they’ll understand. Take your time, and have fun! (From Michael K., Iowa State)
Coworkers = family. You learn to live with them and learn to love them. That being said there is going to be someone you may not see eye to eye with. Work through your disagreements. Reach out to the people who are hurting or struggling. Take care of your family. (From Becca, Iowa State)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Camp provides you with an amazing support system, so reach out when you need to. Also don’t be afraid to act silly and try new things. It’ll make each day more fun and more memorable. The best part is, you’ll be learning a lot about yourself and God all summer. Enjoy it and keep an open mind! (From Denise, North Iowa Area Community College)
Get enough sleep! It can be really tempting to stay up late talking with friends, catching up on all the shows you missed on Netflix, or playing video games in the staff lounge, but you’ll regret it the next morning. This job is very physical. You are on the move from the moment you wake up in the morning to the time your head hits the pillow at night. If you want to be the best you can be for your campers, get enough sleep. (From Jennie, Black Hawk College)
Not everyone at camp is the typical “camp person.” When coming to camp for the first time, I imagined everyone to be overly-excited, creative, and great with children. Camp attracts all sorts of people, they all have their own awesome qualities, and you have to be ready to work with all of them. After all, it’s the people that make camp great. (From Dawn, Iowa State)
Camp will change your life. It will change the way you view the world, the people around you, and yourself. You’ll learn that though the days are long, the reward is great and the people you will spend every moment with are unlike any other. Embrace every second and give every camper your all. You will never regret it. (From Ashton, Oklahoma Baptist University)
Live in the present; be present with those around you. You might miss home, family, friends. That is normal. Use weekends and time off to send emails, make phone calls, FaceTime, and use social media to your heart’s content, but when it’s not the time to be doing those things, do what you’re there for. Be the best counselor you can. Make friends with your co-workers. Laugh, have fun, and be present in the present. (From Jon, Boambee East, New South Wales, Australia)
Camper Shout Out!
Chloe runs cross country and track for her school, but she was looking for something to do once her season ended. Since she loves running so much, she decided to try running a half marathon! She continued training after the cross country season, going on runs and working out every day. Chloe says, "I have loved running for a long time, and it is super important to me. My favorite part about running is the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish, even if it isn't my best race." Not only did Chloe complete her half marathon, but she placed first in her age division! Way to go Chloe!
What amazing things is your camper doing? Send their story and a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we just might feature them on the Camp Wyoming page!