CCUSA’s Advice on Being a First Time Counselor

So…you’re about to embark on your big American adventure and you’re feeling pretty nervous. That is totally normal – after all, you’re travelling to live in a whole new country, on your own to start a brand new job!

Luckily for you, here at CCUSA we are summer camp experts! And we are going to talk you through the trials and tribulations of being a first-time summer camp counsellor.



Your journey begins at the airport (Well, actually your journey started when you pressed that big ‘APPLY NOW’ button. But your physical journey starts right now!)

Leaving your friends and family can be daunting if you’ve never lived abroad before. All across Europe your future co-workers will also be wrapped around their parents/best friends/brother/sister/boyfriend/girlfriend even their pets! There may be a few tears and nervous goodbyes but once you step into that ‘Departures Door’ the excitement of what lies ahead will fill your soul. You will be itching to get through every flight asap until you finally touch down on USA soil.



Whether you are arriving straight to camp or spending a night at CCUSA’s New York hostel, you will be freaking out. This won’t last long. If you’re staying in our hostel, you will meet some of your co-workers there and have a chance to get to know them before you head to camp. If you are going straight to camp, you will be picked up by a member of staff or your camp director. I cannot stress this enough – CAMP PEOPLE ARE THE BEST PEOPLE. You will be welcomed into your camp family with open arms and will feel like you’ve always belonged within a day or two.



Your first week of camp will be a staff training week in which you will learn all the ways that your camp operates from emergency drills to camp songs and skits. During this week you will make some of the best friends of your life. Staff training is designed to bond counsellors and support staff as soon as possible so that by the time the kids arrive, all counsellors can work together. It will continue to baffle you how things at camp move so quickly and so slowly all at the same time. During this week you will also have a chance to learn how to lead some or all of the activities your camp has to offer.



The Sunday night before your kids arrive will be so so so exciting. The returning counsellors will have an infectious joy knowing that they are being re-united with their favourite tiny humans! You will find yourself smiling from ear to ear as you eagerly await their arrival. And once you meet your first kid, the work begins. Get ready for the toughest job you’ll ever love.



Dealing with misbehaved kids can be a nightmare. They can completely disrupt an entire group and throw you off your game. There is a common phrase used among camps throughout the USA –

“The kids who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most”

It is important to remember that your kid is acting out for a reason. After all, they – like you – are away from family in a strange new place and trying to navigate their way through the unknown. Be kind, be patient, be understanding and remember that you are at camp because so many people truly believe that you are extraordinary.



There comes a time in every counsellors summer where the pang of homesickness kicks in. It may be triggered by a big change at home like a new baby, a marriage, a loss or just seeing your friends hanging out without you. Whatever the reason, your biggest asset in these moments will be your co-counselors. They will forever be a shoulder for you to lean on and will support you in any way that they can. Camp truly is one big happy family!



Saying goodbye to camp will be one of the hardest things you will ever do. You will have time to reflect on the amazing experiences, endless love and laughter with your kids and the lifelong friendships that you have made. There will be A LOT of tears and “I’ll miss you”’s but your new family will always only be a WhatsApp away ❤



Travelling the USA after camp is FANTASTIC! In what other situation would you get a whole month to travel with money in your pocket and your best friends by your side? Your co-counsleors – like you – will be buzzing to get out on the open road once the camp season is over and you will find yourself with heaps of invitations to lake houses, road trips, birthday parties, weddings. America is your oyster! Go and live it!



Like the excitement that you felt on your first day heading to camp, you will be excited to get back to your real world life. You will be coming with so many funny, wild, tragic and heartwarming stories that you will spend a whole year re-telling to everyone you meet. Why a year? – because you’ll be right back on an airplane as soon as possible for your second summer at your favourite place in the world.



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