Advice from One of the Greats!

Posted: July 23, 2012

As a licensed clinical social worker, camp consultant, and regular Camping Magazine contributor, Bob Ditter has been helping children, youth, and camp professionals — including counselors! — for many years.

In his Pocket Guide books, Bob lays out a few critical concepts for camp counselors:

  • YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL, which means campers won’t so much listen to what you tell them to do as they will mimic what you do and say. Even when you think they are not watching or listening, they often are. That old saying that “actions speak louder than words” is definitely true at camp.
  • YOU ARE THE ADULT. Surrounded as you are day after day by campers who are known for getting carried away by their feelings, it is easy to slip back into less mature ways of behaving. That is why everyone — campers, their parents, other counselors, and your director — is counting on you to keep things from getting out of hand. Always remember to keep it safe while you are having fun!
  • WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND. Scream a lot, and campers will either tune you out or scream back. Be sarcastic or judgmental, and campers will return the same. Be more concerned about your social life or your time off, and campers will sense that and be less responsive to you. Be respectful, and you can ask the same of your campers and fellow counselors.
  • YOU SHOULD NOT EXPECT TO CHANGE CAMPER BEHAVIOR AS MUCH AS YOU WILL NEED TO LEARN HOW TO INFLUENCE AND MANAGE IT. The roots of any child’s behavior are deep, and your time with them is limited. If you expect to change behavior, you may end up disappointed and frustrated.

Bob’s Pocket Guides are designed to fit in your "back pocket” to help you while you’re at camp. They’re full of quick and easy tips and guidelines for working more effectively and confidently with campers — topics range from homesickness to bullying at camp to useful phrases for challenging situations. For less than $10, add this to your counselor toolbox!

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