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.

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.

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