There is a tremendous amount of excitement building around our 100th summer at Camp Winnebago. January is the time when we begin the process of putting together the pieces of our staff puzzle and we have been pleased to discover this year that quite a few veteran staff will be returning to celebrate our centennial with us. These veterans form the valuable backbone of our staff as they return with a deep understanding of our mission and ethos. We also know that by choosing to be at camp they understand how deeply rewarding and edifying the experience of being a camp counselor is and how profound an impact they make on a new generation of Winnebegans.
Being a camp counselor is a unique combination of fun and responsibility. Each day is different; filled with physical, intellectual and social engagement. Summer after summer when counselors are asked what they found most rewarding about their experience many point to the position of being a role model and how the feeling of having a positive impact on a child is life-changing. Our primary directive at camp is to help individuals develop into their best selves and the camper/counselor relationship affords a series of experiences that allows both opportunities to increase self-awareness and grow.
Being a role model forces young men and women to be their best selves. During staff training, we help counselors understand that they are always on. Children learn through observation and our counselors know that in every moment of their summer their words and actions are on display. This dynamic forces counselors to deepen their awareness of their personal strengths, areas of growth and they are supported by senior staff and administration in this process.
The experience of being a role model builds and/or fortifies self-esteem. Campers are deeply appreciative of counselors who consistently spend time cultivating a positive relationship with them and the counselors gain an understanding of what it is like to be held in high regard. Through both words and actions, campers express their appreciation of their counselors and this dynamic leads counselors to understand more deeply what is admirable about themselves.
At Camp Winnebago, camp leadership takes a strength-based approach in managing our staff. We know that by appreciating (ho) the soft and hard skills a counselor possesses we are both increasing the likelihood that this action will be repeated and making it clear what we regard as positive traits.
As 2019 “Summer of 100” approaches we are excited to welcome both returning and new role models to our counseling staff and look forward to fostering the mutually positive reciprocal relationship between counselors and campers.