Being a camp counselor (a.k.a. being on “The Pink Team”) isn’t as easy as it looks! Here at Camp Alleghany for Girls, all Counselors are required to complete a ten day staff training course as well as weekly “in-services” (or ongoing professional development) that’s used to keep skills, approaches, problem solving, and creative solutions fresh in Counselors’ heads, hearts, and hands. This fun and informative opportunity allows all Counselors to vigorously prepare for – and keep learning during – the summer!
We get a lot of questions about what we do here to prepare for the arrival of campers and what happens during staff training – so here’s a brief look at what happens behind the scenes.
Before coming to camp, all Counselors receive an electronic copy of the Staff Handbook. It includes all of the rules, regulations, schedules, and miscellaneous camp information that is a must-know for the summer. Incoming Counselors are asked to thoroughly review it and complete an online handbook quiz so that the Camp Directors are sure that everyone knows everything there is to know about camp!
Once the rest of the staff gets to camp, we start our staff training bright and early by jumping right into the day in various sessions that delve into subjects such as how to deal with homesickness, safety precautions on the Waterfront, bonding opportunities with the staff, first aid and CPR certifications and emergency procedures. Before staff arrive, they can complete CPR online training so that when they come to the camp, they can just be refreshed with a CRP session and be fully equipped to complete CPR if ever there is an incident that requires it.
In addition to teaching classes during Mini Camp, Term Camp Staff undergo the following:
- Instruction/training in the rules and procedures for being a Tent Counselor
- Instruction/training in the rules and procedures of the Activity Departments
- How to design lessons to suit each activity, along with basic child development knowledge, so that each lesson is age appropriate
- Basic first aid
- CPR certification
- Team building exercises
- Specific camp rules, schedules, and expectations
- NRA-certified Rifle School for those teaching Rifle
- Bonding activities for the Counselors to get to know each other better
The self-improvement doesn’t stop once the campers get here! Every Sunday, we participate in a weekly “in-service” professional development session which is a continuation of staff training. These sessions include skills, additional training, a health and wellness seminar with the infirmary staff, and some surprises and maybe guest speakers along the way.
My favorite part about staff training is the bonding activities. It’s so imperative for the staff to work as one cohesive unit and these few days before the vibrant hum of Term Camp starts does just that. It’s important for us all to get to know each other, learn one another’ learning and teaching styles, and appreciate the diverse individuality that each staff member brings.
Unlike many other summer jobs, being a camp counselor affords these in-depth training and self-development opportunities along with the demands of the job where we can practice and test these skills, and grow new and sometimes unexpected skills along the way. It’s definitely proven to be a rounding out experience for me, as you can see in another blog I wrote on the value of being here this summer.
– Charlotte Robins, Junior Camp Unit Head and Start-Up Mom, Camp Alleghany for Girls