Friendship bracelets, long hikes, face paint. These are all things that make you think of summer camp. But, as all camp counselors know, there are many unconventional things that go along with working outside with children 24/7. Here are just a few summer camp things that make camp counselors go, "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this."
1. Singing silly songs with hand motions for every word
You really didn't mind making a fool of yourself, but there's the camper-favorite song you can't stand to hear one more time...it was probably about a bear. Or a worm. Or a moose.
2. Cleaning up bodily fluids that are not your own
Each counselor was assigned a different bodily fluid based on what they could handle. "Okay Jenny, if you'll get the puke, I can handle the bed-wetting accident and we'll leave Elizabeth with any fecal matter."
3. Answering stupid questions was at least 75% of your job
Whoever said "There are no dumb questions" has obviously never heard a camper ask if tigers are a threat in the woods of South Alabama.
4. Listening to campers' rambling stories was the other 25%
Uhuh.... uhuh..... uhuhhhhhh.
5. You are the Picasso of glitter and sequins
Does your team flag need a little reboot? Throw some sequins on that sucker! Need a way to remember which walkie talkie is yours? Glitter duct tape should do the trick! In a job full of dirt and dust and sweat, sparkles are essential to your well-being. Plus, the campers think you're artsy and mysterious, so that's a plus.
6. Being a camp counselor becomes a customer service job every drop-off/pick-up day
Crazy moms were your specialty. You could calm all their irrational fears in two minutes flat. "No, Mrs. Parker, we will not force your sweet Katie to eat peanut butter if she is allergic to it."
7. Having a favorite camper...even though you're not supposed to
They're just like a little version of you, and you want to make the younger you happy, so you take this precious child under your wing.
8. Not having your phone for two months is a life-changing experience
You almost don't want to open your phone on your off-time...almost.
9. Speaking in a code to leave the campers clueless
There was a different code word for every semi-dangerous animal in the area. Snakes, snapping turtles, big spiders, you name it! You could also communicate via hand signals with precision! Just a few motions and the staff member across the rec field knew exactly what you were talking about.
10. You truly cherished all those little gifts from campers
11. Seeing your campers in a non-camp environment is just weird
"You go to the grocery store TOO? Why aren't you wearing dirty Sketchers and 15 friendship bracelets?"
12. You could craft the most outrageous of costumes in seconds
Making costumes for skits was like the "Chopped" of summer camp. You have a cowboy hat, fairy wings and five yards of what looks like a stained bedsheet. What you do with the materials you have been given is up to you. (Oh, and the natives are getting restless, so you have 30 seconds.)
13. The hardest goodbyes are to your co-workers on the last day
You knew it couldn't be this way forever...so why did you sign up for this inevitable heartache? Because meeting the person you can sit on a rock-hard bunk bed and cry with at 2 a.m. was worth it.
14. Coming to the realization that you are making a lifelong difference for hundreds of children
You are truly grateful for every child you had an interaction with and prayed each night that you would be a positive influence for your campers.
Being a camp counselor is nowhere near an easy job, but it was totally worth every sting, bite and cut on your body to be a role model for someone who looks up to you. It was the highlight of your year to invest time and energy into someone else besides you. You never want camp to end, but understand that the skills you learn on staff should be beautifully put to use in your every day life.