Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What is a camp counselor?

It is the time of year when I start to get applications to be a summer camp counselor and to be a CIT. Every time someone asks me what the job entails I think of this poem. If you were wanting to know we have a lot of returning staff this upcoming summer.

What is a Camp Counselor---A Poem
Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood there occurs in human development an age which is physically and psychologically impossible. It is that unfathomable stage known as "Camp Counselor", a creature undefined by psychologists, misunderstood by camp directors, either admired or doubted by parents, and unheard of by the rest of society.

A camp counselor is a rare combination of doctor, lawyer and Indian Chief. They are competent child psychologists, paid baby sitters with neither television nor refrigerator. They are strict disciplinarians with a twinkle in their eye: a minister to all faiths with questions about their own. They are referees, coaches, teachers, and advisors. They are the example of grown-ups in worn out tennis shoes, a sweat shirt 2 sizes to large and a hat 2 sizes to small. They are humorists in a crisis, a doctor in an emergency, a song leader, an entertainer, a play director. Counselors are idols with their head in a cloud of wood smoke and their feet in mud. They are comforters in a leaky tent on a cold night and a pal who has just loaned someone their last pair of dry socks. They are teachers of the out-of-doors, knee deep in poison ivy.

Counselors dislike the wake-up bell, waiting in line, cabin clean-up, and rainy days. They are fond of sun bathing, exploring, teaching new games, and days off. They are handy for patching up broken friendships, bloody knees, and torn jeans. they are good at locating lost bathing suits, playing guitar, and catching fish. They are poor at crawling out on rainy mornings, and getting to bed early. A counselor is a dynamo on a day off, and exhausted the next day, but recuperates for the next day off.

Who but a counselor can cure homesickness, air out wet bedding, whistle"Dixie" through their fingers, and sing 37 verses of " oh you can't get to heaven".

A counselor is expected to repair 10 years of damage to Becky in 10 days, turn Terri in to a woman, rehabilitate Matt allow Joan to be an individual, and help Pat adjust to the group. They are expected to lead the most prized possession of adults much older than themselves. They are expected to lead them in fun and adventure in the North-woods, even though they spend 9 months a year in cities like Chicago, New York or Los Angles; to teach ingenious activities-then they can't even spell it; to guide them into social adjustment-when they haven't found it; to ensure safety and health- with a sunburned nose, a band aid on their thumb, and a blister on their heal. For all this, they are paid enough to buy the second text in psychology, some aspirin, some new socks and some tennis shoes. You wonder how they can stand the pace and the pressure. You wonder if they really know how much they are worth, and somehow, you realize you can never pay them enough when, they leave in August, and they wave good-by and says, "See' ya next summer!

"From "What is a Camp Counselor", Camping Magazine March 1965, P.M. Ford

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