Tuesday, June 13, 2017
We're finishing up staff training this week, and are excited for our campers to arrive! This article was written by SBC staffer Emily Burrill (pictured on the right). Emily is qualified to share what camp counselors want you to know, because . . . well, she is one. She is beginning her second summer as a counselor on our staff. She's a camper favorite, and after spending a few minutes with her, it's easy to see why!
1. "We are qualified."
Yes, the counselors look young. Some counselors even get mistaken for the campers. Even though they look young, they are very qualified.
Long before the campers come, the counselors are there. They move in and begin to bond with the staff, giving them the opportunity for spiritual and social balance and support throughout the summer. From there, they learn everything about camp and about campers. They learn every single activity inside and out. They have numerous training sessions involving the personal aspect of camp. They learn about the differences of age groups, how to lead bible studies, the importance of one-on-one conversations, and how to convey the heart of the Gospel to all age groups.
They are also trained to act in emergency situations. They are CPR certified, many of them carry around face masks in the happenstance of needing it for respiration purposes. They are trained on how to deal with blood and injury. They are trained on how to act if there is mention or suspicions of abuse or neglect. They know how to deal with even the tiniest of emergencies, boo-boos, bed wetting, and meltdowns. They are all trained in aquatic observa
So, the point. They may look young, but they are more than capable. If you have any concerns or questions when dropping off your child at camp about training or their qualifications, ask the counselors! They would love to fill you in.
2. "We LOVE Jesus."
These counselors LOVE JESUS. Many of the counselors are ministry majors, or want to work in ministry at some point in their life. This is not just a summer of "showing Jesus" to people. It's hands on experience for the rest of their lives.
On the weekends, they may share their testimonies with each other. When they are overwhelmed during the week, they pray for each other. They study the word while in community. They sing out Christian music in the car while running into town for more camp supplies.
These counselors love Jesus. It's the reason they're are all at camp. They were called by Him, so they went. And at camp, they are continually blessed by Him. Their goal is to spread that love, blessing, and joy of Christ to your children. They want them to embrace the gift that He has given them so they can experience this life in His light.
Just as Jerry Jacoby states, "The Gospel Means Good News," and the counselors' passion is to show that, because they really, really, really love Jesus.
3. "WE GET PAID FOR THIS!"
Last summer, the counselors would say a specific line to each other. With joy in their eyes and the brightest smile on their faces, they would proclaim, "We get paid for this!" They get paid to love on kids and to show them Jesus. That’s the dream. They love every part of the job. Many of the staff from last year returned because they not only loved the children and loved spreading the Gospel, but they loved the camp environment.
These counselors are basically oversized children. They love to wear crazy & bright clothes on wacky Wednesday. They love tubing & playing in the water just as much as the kids do. When they get to play Gold Rush or Crud Wars, it is never a burden, but the highlight of their week. They love to run around bare-foot, let the campers dress them up in weird clothes and do ridiculous skits during skit night, and clean up a bloody nose of a camper in the middle of the night.
These counselors LOVE their job and yes, they really do get paid to have fun all day, spread the word of God, and love on kids.
4. We are human.
These counselors are human. The counselors are very qualified, but sometimes they get tired. They get sick. They get too competitive during Gold Rush. Their patience wears thin. They get overcome with exhaustion. They have the urge to be selfish. They aren't perfect.
Fortunately, we have plenty of support staff to step in and help them when they need a break, advice or a helping hand. But . . . they still need your prayer.
They need prayer to support them in moments when they feel like giving up. They need the guidance of the Lord in situations that are tricky and over their heads. They need strength when they feel weak. They need energy on Wednesday afternoon when the exhaustion begins to set in. They need patience and gentleness to remember that Gold Rush is just a game and not an opportunity to win.
Yes, these counselors are human. They might mess up and not know what to do. But this is why they need prayer and support. They will be doing everything they can to be your child's superhero. And God will fill in all the gaps in which they fall short.
5. We LOVE your kids.
These counselors love your kids. They have such a huge passion for youth and children's ministry. They not only want to spread the wonderful news of Jesus to your kids coming to camp, but they want to love them, fiercely.
During the months and moments before the campers even arrive, the counselors are loving them. They are taking the time to be trained to know all the situations they might acquire when working with each specific age group. They are learning to connect with the campers. They are getting pumped up to meet their cabin. Some counselors spend the months before praying intensely, for not only the campers that they have had, but the campers that they will have. Why? Because they LOVE your kids. When camp finally arrives, the counselors go crazy. They are so excited (and nervous) to meet their campers. They begin to form intentional relationships with your kids, getting to know the person you've created. They marvel at their camper’s maturity, quirks, interests, and beautiful, God given traits. They hear heart wrenching stories and celebrate in the exciting, life-changing moments. The roller coaster that your child starts at the beginning of camp, gives them just as much a thrill and spiritual fullness to the counselor as the camper. They pour every single thing they have into your kids. Why? Because they LOVE your kids.
When camp ends, their lives are changed. Not only because of the movement of Christ throughout the summer, but because of your children. Some counselors have journals, filled with quotes, stories, and life-changing moments that they experienced through their campers. They hang up pictures with their campers on their walls and pray for them every night. They bring the memories and legacies of these campers everywhere they go, letting other people experience the joy and Christ-moments of their campers. Many people firmly believe that camp can change a camper’s life. However, what people don't tend to think about is that a camper can drastically change the life of a counselor.
Your kids may lack wifi, their own beds, and familiarity at camp, but they do not lack being loved.