When I was getting ready to become a staff member at camp for the first time, I was quickly reminded of just how important the job of a camp counselor actually is. While I was growing up, I used to think my camp counselors were the coolest people in the world. They were funny, smart, older, and interesting. They seemed to have it all together and knew the right thing to say. I wanted to be them so badly.
Then I became one, and I realized just how much more went into becoming a counselor than just being that cool older teenager that got paid to play with kids all day. There was much more to it. I’ve given up sleep for a camper who is upset, homesick or can’t sleep. I’ve given up food for picky eaters. I’ve given up energy for them when they just want to play one more game of ga-ga ball. I’ve had moments of fear when a child has an injury, and moments where I had to be a nurse to kids who really were just freaking out for no reason. It was a lot. It was exhausting.
It was so worth it.
Nothing is more satisfying then hearing campers say they want to request to have you again as their counselor next year. It also can rock you to your core when they tell you how much of an impact you’ve had on their life. I can remember one of my counselors from when I was in 8th grade giving me some of the best advice I’ve ever received – you should never have to prove to someone that what you love to do is worth doing. Her name was Brittany. I have become that person for other people.
The most rewarding thing about being a counselor though, is leading children to Jesus. For some campers, this is the first interaction they will have had with the Lord. I can tell you that the moments I have felt closest to God is seeing a camper’s heart turn towards Him. It will wreck you.
This job will be more than just hanging out with campers and playing games with them. You aren’t a babysitter. You are leaning into their lives, learning about their home life, their fears, their experiences, and their dreams. You very well could be the first person that they feel like actually cares about who they are. This moment of time that they are in, is some of the most transformative years of their lives and you are going to be lucky enough to be a part of it.
Camp counselors repair heartbreaks in 7 days, allow campers to be individuals, and help them break down their shell and become themselves. They lead campers on fun adventures in the woods even though one of them has never slept outside before. They show campers the love of Jesus is not confined to the walls of a church. You won’t sleep too much, you will hurt in places you didn’t realize could hurt sometimes, but you will be so satisfied and fulfilled. That’s because the Lord will use you full force to reach these kids.
A camp counselor is not a summer job, it’s one of the most influential jobs. I am incredibly lucky that I got to do it for 2 years.
If you want to read more of Anna's work, check out her personal blog website!