Our summer camp internships in the USA are some of our most popular programmes, and it’s easy to see why. Fun, exciting, culturally rich and extremely rewarding, camps are full of imaginative and educational play, making them enticing options for people who love to work with kids.
The American summer camp tradition is a longstanding one, which began in 1861 and is still a vital part of the United States’ culture today, with over 12 000 camps across the country catering to over 10 million children. Alluring because of the nature of the work and the fact that the camps are often set up in some of the area’s most beautiful destinations, many people also choose to become camp counsellors because of the joy found in working with children from all walks of life.
If you’re thinking about becoming a summer camp counsellor and interning with YDP, here are some of the qualities you need to excel in your role as a mentor and educator:
1. You need to be in control and ready for every eventuality: Make sure that you know what the job entails before you sign up. Remember, it can be quite hard work keeping up with kids, and there’ll be lots of curveballs along the way! Prep for each day in advance, and always be calm, responsible and happy to help, whatever the problem may be.
2. Plan your activities carefully: Co-ordinate with the other counsellors and come up for an agenda for the week, jam-packed with educational games and fun activities to keep the kiddies happy and entertained. Preparation is the key to success.
3. Make sure you’re approachable and friendly: The friendlier you are, the easier you’ll find it to get along with your fellow counsellors and the kids in your charge. Be kind, enthusiastic and fun, but also remember, you’re the person the kids are looking up to, so you need to behave like an adult at all times.
4. Make an effort to get to know the kids early on: As soon as you know which children are in your care, make an effort to learn their names and a bit about their backgrounds. Play fun name games to get to know each other. Try to spend quality time with each child so you know if they’re enjoying themselves, how they’re feeling and what they need from you. All children need attention, so make sure you’re dividing yours equally between them.
5. Play games that encourage team-building: Try to encourage all the kids to respect each other and to get along. Play games that unite them as a team and help them to get to know one another in a non-threatening and encouraging way.
6. Reflect on how things are going: At the end of each day, chat to the kids to find out what their highlights were and what they didn’t enjoy so you have a clearer idea regarding what activities to pursue. Spend some time chatting around the fire – it’s important to have some quality conversation before the day ends.
Have fun, be organised, and encourage games that foster team building and kindness. Remember to be a good role model and to get to know the children early on, so you can give each one plenty of individual attention and support. YDP has lots of summer camp internships available, so if you’re keen to become a counsellor, get in touch with us and we’ll start the journey with you.