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"22 signs you’re a Camp Counselor" by Sophie Mullender

25.05.15

1. Your whole life is a countdown.

Whether it is counting the days until camp, counting the hours until staff retreat, or counting down the children for their 60 second showers  – we spend our life waiting, waiting and waiting for the fun to begin. Then we spend our life crying when we count down and realise it’s only a week till the end of camp.

2. You realise that you really do only need 5 tshirts.

During the year, we’ll look in our wardrobe and scream ‘Why do I own NO CLOTHES’ whilst looking at 252 dresses, 35 pairs of shorts and the rest. Suddenly, you go to camp and realise it is perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfit everyday. Let’s be honest, it’s way more comfortable and we wish it was socially acceptable in the real world.

3. A camp song comes on and you try your hardest not to find a table and dance on it.

One of the hardest first world problems of all; the dance battle struggle. You always have them songs at camp. You look at your friend, give them a mutual nod of agreement and get up and sing your heart out. You get so used to it that when you return home, you practically have to sit on your hands to not sing along and potentially get fired from your ‘real’ job.

4. We really do have campfires, and they really are as emotional as the movies make out.

Time and time again I’m asked ‘Do you really sit around a campfire and sing?’ Yes, yes we do. We make smores and gather round the fire and reminisce about stories that happened 2 hours prior, trying not to break into tears at the thought of the ineluctable end of camp. 

5. You know your day is going to be bad when you wake up with a wet bed.

We’ve all been there; it is inevitable that you’ll encounter a wet bed in the summer. You get out of bed, get prepared for the day and OH HELLO – there it is. Along comes the walk of shame with your trash bag.

6. Looking up to the hill of death.

 It’s 7.30am. You want breakfast, but you don’t want to walk up the hill. You strategically attempt to ask yourself: How can I get up this hill to eat, without walking up this hill? Plan 1: My campers could carry me. Plan 2: I could crawl. Plan 3: I do not eat breakfast. Queue laughter at the mere thought that you were ever thinking of such a ludicrous idea such as not eating breakfast.

7. Shower time is a lose-lose situation.

Let’s be honest: shower time never works for anyone.  The kids are already tired, you’re tired, there’s a 99% chance there’s going to be a spider/ant/monstrous creature ready to attack and stop shower time, and you are just never prepared.

8. You have a love/hate relationship with meetings.

Oh I’m so excited, who will I be with this week? Oh wait, what if I don’t get my favourite cabin? Wait wait, you’re telling me there’s NO dream-bars on the menu this week!?

9. You see a sunset anywhere in the world and think of camp.

Camp and beautiful sunsets go hand in hand. The magical colours in the sky coincide with the sheer happiness that you feel at camp. Seeing one on the drive home from work is not, and never will be the same. 

10. Your private jokes that become public jokes that nobody understands.

Camp is hilarious. No matter what camp you’re at, and who is there; there are going to be endless camp jokes. You could form a whole sentence just using quotes from camp. In fact, that’s such a good idea that you get used to that and soon, you’re home and…oh dear. You’re spurting out random sayings that nobody understands and therefore you have to Facebook your camp friends just to feel the slightest bit satisfied. 

11. You get emotional about leaving three weeks into camp.

Camp is normally about 9 weeks long. Yet, we all know it’s going to end. You’re sitting in the dining hall, Wagon Wheel comes on and you look at your friend and say ‘No, no let’s not think about leaving yet.’ But you do. And you cry. Because you know the end is nigh, and you might not make it through.

12. Your mood is based on whether it’ll be hot during free swim.

OK, 3 hours till free swim, there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Maybe the water will be warm? 2 hours till free swim, still looking good. Maybe I can try and rival the lifeguard tans. Silly theory. 15 minutes until free swim: Oh hello, Storm. You were not welcome today. Every time.

13. You have skills that unfortunately, are not transferable to everyday life.

You wish you could go to an interview and show your friendship bracelet making skills, or your ability to sing a camp song non-stop for 5 hours. Or perhaps, I could show you some hip-pocket games? Or write you a sentimental note that you’ll keep forever? Wait, you want me to be good with Excel? Oh, that’s going to be an issue.

14. Your friends find you incredibly annoying.

The reason being is that all you find yourself talking about is camp, camp, and more camp. Sometimes you feel as though you may have to wire your mouth shut because your most used phrase this year is ‘When I was at Camp…’

15. Capture the Flag is a serious game; every man for themselves.

It’s Sunday evening, meaning only one thing; it’s Capture the Flag time. You find your buddy, compose a cunning plan to accidentally on purpose find yourselves in the same team and paint your face like you have never painted it before. You look over the other side of the field at ‘those people’ you used to call your friends. Not today. Today they are nothing to you.

16. Your survival for the week is based upon how many snacks you bought at Walmart.

You cannot get through a week without snacks; they are notoriously known as the survival tool for a Camp Counselor. Whether it’s Swedish Fish, Cinnamon Buns, Ben and Jerries or Hersheys (And obviously only the cookies and cream one) they must be hidden, cherished and demolished. You give your co-counselor the nod of consensus, and you subtly walk past them and hand them over some treats. Sharing your snacks with your co is a sign you have the ultimate friendship.

17. There’s always that one kid that hates you.

It happens every year. You try singing to them, making them laugh, letting them stay up a little later; nothing. You question everything you’ve been trying to perfect this summer but the unfortunate truth is; they just don’t like you. And they never will. So you pass them onto your co and tell yourself everyday that you have another 11 that do like you..at least you think.

18. Your favourite camper that is not supposed to be a favourite.

I am horrendously guilty for this. It is evident many counselors are, however I am up there amongst the worst offenders. That kid you spend your whole summer waiting to come. That kid who you try not to let sit next to you at every meal time, but you cannot bear to tell them no because they are just too bloody cute. The counsellor that you get annoyed with when you find out they have your kid in their cabin this year and you don’t. I could tell you every single one of my friends ‘favourite’ camper at camp; but as long as the kids don’t know, we’ll be OK.

P.S: I’m joking of course. Favourites don’t exist.

19. Getting mail is already exciting. Getting mail at camp is too phenomenal to bear.

It’s a tough day, you’re tired, you don’t think you can sit in the canoe any longer. Then suddenly, in the distance you see a shadowy figure walking towards you holding what can only be A PARCEL FOR YOU. You run towards them screaming, rip it open and feel elated at the international goodies your mum has mailed to you. You run around camp waving them around, soon to regret it when all your friends take every treat you have. The weekend comes and you find yourself emailing your mum saying ‘So, my friends ate all the chocolate. Can you send more?’ Repeat this x4 every summer.

20. You become a hoarder.

Friendship bracelets, mail, children’s notes to you, counselors notes to you, your name tag, and even that precious pebble little Jimmy gave you that you can’t bear to let go of. You believe if you throw out this stuff; camp may never have happened. So you store it all in a keepsake box and get it out every time you need to have a really huge cry and question, yet again, why camp doesn’t happen 12 months a year. 

21. Realising the buddy system is a necessity out of camp too.

Grab your buddy! Jimmy, where is your buddy? Buddy Check! I’ve lost my buddy! It is of the utmost importance to ensure every camper has a buddy at camp. In fact, we spend so much time doing this we forget how crucial it is for counselors to have them too. Everyone needs that go-to not just at camp, but in everyday life. Yet another reason camp forms the seven commandments of life. You really do learn more than how to tie dye a shirt. I promise.

22. Knowing that unless people have been a camp counselor, they’ll never understand.

The ultimate sign you are a camp counselor is accepting that 80% of people in your life will never understand your obsession and what forms it. They won’t understand the late night chats on the cabin porch, or the time spent up on the hill listening to music and watching the sunset. They won’t understand how you become best friends with someone after 2 weeks, or how a hug can brighten your day in an instant. But, that’s OK. Why? Because you understand, and so do your co’s. That’s all that matters.

Follow me on instagram at @gowherethemagichappens!

If you have any questions about being a Camp Counselor, feel free to contact me by email: [email protected] or you can apply at campamerica.co.uk – Thank you!