13 Things Your Kid’s Camp Counselor Won’t Tell You

Sending the kids off to camp this summer? We granted anonymity to insiders from camps in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin so they'd share some of the secrets of their profession.

Interviews by Adam Bluestein from Reader's Digest | July 2008
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    1. For the first week, the cries of the homesick are almost unbearable. After that: 'Mom? Who's Mom?'

    2. Your kid is a lot less shy and a lot more competent than you think.

    3. Your son will shun clothing and may well go without showering for weeks. 'It's like a frat you join when you're ten.'

    4. Don't bother with the labels--everything's going to get hopelessly mixed up anyway.

    5. As long as he or she is eventually found, we're not going to tell you about all the times we had to call a search-and-rescue for your child.

    6. Some of us are hung over every morning and rigidly enforce afternoon naptime not because the kids need the rest but because our heads hurt.

    7. Even if it's not a coed camp, your teen is going to learn more about the opposite sex (accurate or not) than you want to know.

    8. If they want to eat peanut butter and jelly for weeks in a row, there's really nothing we can do about it.

    9. We confiscate the 'illegal' candy you send and eat it ourselves. For the kid's own good, of course.

    10. Your kids will be plunged into icy water, submitted to exotic 'tortures,' and scared witless countless times--just because we think it's funny. ... Oh, and they'll love it.

    11. According to the American Camp Association, the typical camper return rate is about 60 percent, and 92 percent of campers surveyed say the people at camp 'helped me feel good about myself.'

    12. For weeks after coming home, your child is going to speak in incomprehensible camp slang and pine for people named Lunchmeat, Fuzzy, and Ratboy.

    13. We actually do this because we love your kids--and we'll probably do it again next year. (According to the ACA, the average return rate for staff is 40 to 60 percent.) Camp is worlds more fun as a counselor than it is as a camper.

    See also: Ways to Save on Summer Camp


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    Your Comments

    • Cathy

      I remember wondering why the kids would cry as we left for camp….when I would cry coming back! My home life was beyond dysfunctional. Camp was my refuge every summer! It was one of the very few positive, wonderful moments in my childhood. I would work washing cars, cleaning houses, doing yard work for months to get the money to go to camp each summer. Now, I’m the camp counselor. I get to make sure that the kids have fabulous memories that last a lifetime!

    • Otaku-155

      LOLOL All I learned about sex, I learned at summer camp!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ENNF7RDC26QO5SZ7PGOF5NSGWQ Rasp

      Yess. I was hoping there were one of these, but they really should do one for day camp too. #12 is so true. Kids will learn slang but they’ll also learn the bad words that the counselors say. For day camp, if your child doesn’t want to come one day, than let them stay home, the less whiney children, the better.

    • anonymous

      The only ones true for the camp I work at are 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13.

    • Wilting Lotus

      As for #4 – at my kids’ camp, during the last campfire circle, the lost and found box would be brought out and each item would be held up and campers would be asked to claim their belongings.  Funny how boys will not claim underwear, even though “John Smith” is written  on the front of the waistband in big letters with  black laundry marking pen!

      Also loved #5, although our camp had a very high staff to camper ratio.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IQZGQF2CNBBF5HPYKGKMOHMI4E Haley

      The last one is so true. Although, we don’t eat the kid’s candy….