The Camp Counsellor Survival Guide

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Vicky Philpott

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Written by: Rebecca Root

An idyllic lake, rustic bunks, great kids, new friends, a summer love… the idea of being a camp counsellor certainly is appealing but it’s no easy feat. Often those recruiting forget to tell you about the few grim facts that come along with a summer of adventure. I‘m talking the lack of sleep, threat of bug bites and fatty bum bum food. But, fear not, there’s a whole host of hacks that will help you get through the summer of your life with a little less stress.

1. Embrace your nickname

No matter your role at camp, whether you’re the buff lifeguard on dock two or nutty Nat from Canteen, it is inevitable that you will end up with a nickname and there’s no fighting it. With three Emilys and four Ryans there’s got to be a way of identifying everyone so there’s no fighting it. Embrace the name and just hope that you’re one of the lucky ones that simply remains Susie Sports and not Crazy Dance lady.

2. Farewell diet plan

Whatever protein building, calorie busting regime you were on it is over. There’s no room for fuss when it comes to camp food, you get what you’re given and that means losing any hope of leaving camp with a slender figure. I’m afraid it’s grilled cheese and hairy chicken for eight weeks so stock up on any healthy replacements on days off.

3. Mr Shut-eye

Grab forty winks whenever you can. There’ll be late night sing songs and midnight smores keeping you up until the wee hours and that’s not forgetting that screamer child sleeping below you. So, if you get a sly 30 minutes in your period off, forget the urge to play cards or do laundry and lay your head down. Ear plugs are a pretty good investment for blocking out those courtside screams.

4. Mozzies be-gone

It’s simple travel 101, don’t forget the bug spray. There’ll be enough children rubbing you up the wrong way without mosquito bites up your leg doing the same. Stock up before you leave and lather lather repeat.

5. Learn to make friendship bracelets

This is an important part of any summer camp experience. The knowledge of a quick chevron or double wave is like possessing the key to a box of colourful secrets. A simple weave can be used to distract cranky campers and diffuse bunk fall-outs all while spangling up your arm.

6. Shed your shyness

Morning wake ups, the dinner prayer, Friday night chants or July talent show, you will be singing, dancing and dressing up. Even if you’re not a Whitney wannabe you’ll be humming until sundown, and probably before, so dust off those vocal chords, dig out that sense of humour and get practicing your act.

7. Time is of the essence

If it isn’t already, your watch will be your new fashion summer staple. Wear it all times and set those alarms because timing is everything. With strict schedules and early mornings it’s important to be on time for arts and crafts and set reminders for the nurse visits.

8. Choose your battles

You’ll love them, hate them, never want to leave them, but your campers will inevitably send you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions throughout the summer. There’ll always be an argument about bed time and disputes over chicken nuggets but choose your battles wisely. It’s not worth getting uptight about some things and always seek support for those that are.

9)    Dance your troubles away

Creating a short clap, clap roll starts off as a team builder helping to bond your bunk but it will also act as an attention grabber. When Morgan is jumping on her bunk bed and Alice won’t come out of the bathroom, a quick rendition of the bunk dance should calm it all down so you can get them focussed on the next task.

10)   Covert camp romance

When you’ve been smooching with the hotty from bunk 12 or flirting with the babe by the lake keep it on the DL. If the campers catch on that you have a crush on Jesse from Jet skis it’ll be a summer of torment and teasing, not to mention utter embarrassment when they tell everyone, and I mean, everyone.

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