Better Camp Counselors Make Better Kids

The quality of camp staff is an important consideration when choosing the right summer camp for your child, and at the Y we aim to impress with camp counselors that are not only fun, but responsible.

“We want our camp counselors to be fun and energetic, but also mature and it’s important they have good judgment,” said Kim Keith, YMCA VP of Youth Development, who got her start as a camp counselor at the Y.

The Camp Staff Selection Process

Every year around this time the YMCA posts open summer camp counselor positions. There often aren’t very many because there is a high retention rate from summer to summer. Kim is the perfect example, having spent every summer since college working in some capacity at Y camps. She’s now been with the Y for 17 years.

“We may have 60-80 applicants for only 15-20 positions,” she said. “Our interview process is serious and we only choose the best of the best.”

Selected applicants first participate in a group interview, in which they have to lead an activity, answer questions, and show how well they work as a team.

Those that move on to a second interview are interviewed individually. A job offer is contingent on three reference checks and a thorough background screening. Before they begin their job as a camp counselor, they read a thorough training guide and take two online courses – one on blood-borne pathogens and the other on child abuse prevention.

Those in leadership positions also receive CPR/First Aid training and how to administer EpiPen and Glucagon injections. Then in May all camp staff meet for 30 hours prior to first day of camp. During this time they are trained in numerous areas, including:

  • Group Control
  • Enthusiasm
  • Team-building
  • Safety
  • Leadership
  • Image
  • Christian Mission

How Y Camp Staff Makes an Impact

  • They encourage campers to try new things and to make new friends.
  • They help build their confidence by encouraging them and celebrating with them when they achieve something they have worked hard for.
  • They take every opportunity to role model and teach character development. After a game, they might ask the campers, “Who showed honesty during that game? At the end of the day, they might ask, “Who was someone that was caring towards you today? How can you be more caring towards others tomorrow?”
  • They aim for summer camp at the Y to bring to mind fun, friendship and great memories for both kids and their parents.

“I am constantly telling Youth Directors and their staff that our job as Y staff is to ‘make kids better,’” Kim said. “When a child has spent a week with us at day camp, they should be better as a result of their participation – more confident, more caring, more respectful."

Kim's Favorite Memory as a Camp Counselor

“One summer I had a camper who really didn’t want to be at camp. He was not an active child and didn’t enjoy playing outside or playing sports. My co-counselor and I helped him make friends and encouraged him to try games that he didn’t think he would like. Every day we could tell he was a little more excited about coming to camp. At the end of the first week he shot his first bullseye at Archery. By the middle of the second week, he was becoming a leader among his peers… the first to stand up to cheer in assembly, the first one in line to play kickball, willing to try new things, encouraging his friends, helping new campers meet new friends. It was amazing to see the transformation from his first day. On the Friday of his second week of camp, we awarded him with the Camper of the Week Award which is the highest honor in a huddle. The look on his face was priceless. And the look on his mom’s face when we told her at Rides Out, even better!”

 A YMCA Parent’s Perspective

“The Y Camp Counselors are one of the reasons my daughter can’t wait to go back to summer camp,” said Andrea, YMCA parent. “I love the Y Camp Counselors. They really took the time to get to know my daughter.”

The Y Summer Camp Difference

Y camps are deeply rooted in tradition, offering a unique experience. Many camps offer one focus or specialty, whereas a Y camp provides the chance for children to participate in many different activities and experiences like archery, sports, swimming, crafts and more.

“Our three areas of focus are achievement, belonging and relationship,” Kim explained. “We want children to feel like they are part of something bigger, that they are a part of a team or family that wants them to be there.”

Meet Our Summer Camp Staff

We can’t wait for your child to meet our amazing summer camp staff! Visit a camp open house or Family Night and say ‘Hi’ during our Rides In and Out.

New to Camp?

Click here to learn more about our camp tours.