The first time parents send their kids off to summer camp is a moment of both fear and excitement. When a child takes the next step in their development, whether it’s learning to use a toilet or walking across a stage to pick up a diploma, it’s a proud moment for parents. As with any important decision, sending your child away should involve research and asking plenty of questions. We know that parents who are sending their child off to camp for the first time have an important question: who’s watching my kids?
The Short Answer
The short answer to this question can be a bit more complex than it seems: It depends.
Is your child doing a program that focuses on building a particular set of skills? what age group are they going to be a part of? Which activities did they sign up for? The appealing factor here is that your child is being cared for by someone who has been through our extensive screening, training, and has the maturity to be an excellent teacher and role model. You may be hesitant at first, but rest assured, quite a lot goes into the hiring process. It’s imperative to find out how a potential camp screens and interviews their applicants. You may want to discover if the camp is accredited or not by the American Camp Association, who places rigorous screening and background check standards on accredited camps. For example, as an accredited camp facility, River Way does full background checks, reference checks, as well as NSOPW checks on all potential staff. The quality of camp staff is an important consideration when choosing the right summer camp for your child, and at River Way we pride ourselves on our staff and aim to impress with camp counselors that are not only fun, but responsible.
College Students as Camp Counselors
Who hasn’t seen a movie or comedy where college-age camp counselors are depicted as immature and aloof?
There’s a bit of a stereotype when it comes to college students working as counselors at summer camp. Thanks to our careful staff selection process, this stereotype is vastly overplayed and mistaken. Camp applicants have a whole list of qualifications to meet if college students want to work at their establishments. River Way counselors are often teachers, or studying to become teachers, and they have excellent experience in working with youth. What’s more, all California applicants attend a two-day hiring workshop held on site, where applicants are fully interviewed in a group setting; here they are challenged with role plays, skill showcases, and much more. Many of our camp families comment year after year that our staff make the largest difference in their child’s summer camp experience, so it is reassuring to know that summer camps are making sure they have the right kind of counselors long before your child arrives.
This is actually a great setup for kids as college students provide them with role models who are not that far removed from themselves.
It’s easier for a child to follow instructions if they look up to the person who is giving them, so building that bond is important. Our counselors are relatable, respectable, fun, and nurturing. College-age students have the endurance and drive required for a summer full of fun activities as well as the energy for leading groups of children. The back of our staff shirts read, “Role Model,” as our staff are reminded daily that all eyes are on them to be the best possible example for their campers.
What Kinds of Responsibilities Do Camp Counselors Have?
Let’s get back to camp counselors, college-age or not. This is the most important job at a summer camp because these are the people who are directly responsible for caring for your child. Every camp is different, but the basic tasks of a camp counselor are to make sure that campers’ needs are met, physical, social, and emotional. This includes helping get campers to bed with teeth brushed, fresh pajamas, and even doing daily reflections. Some other duties of the counselors include: ensuring campers get plenty to eat, making sure they apply (and reapply) sunscreen, and, most importantly, enjoying their time at camp. Beyond overseeing their campers’ needs, counselors serve as mentors, helping guide campers through any homesickness or emotional struggles Although a physically exhausting job, past staff always mention that it is one of the most rewarding and helpful experiences of their lives. Counselors learn just as much from the campers as the campers do from them!
Camp is about having a safe, fun time, but it’s also an opportunity for a child to step out and grow, learning to be independent with the help of some amazing role models.