Written by: Camilla
Being a great camp leader for young people is an exceptionally challenging yet a fantastically impactful and rewarding role. Recognizing the strengths and differences within any group of campers is a skill you will develop over the course of the summer but in reflection of International Women’s Day, we want to highlight ways that you can be a better leader to female-identified campers and as such, be a better leader to all of the campers that you interact with.
Don’t assume anything!
At the crux of your role is understanding, empowering and supporting your campers – all the parts that come together to make them who they are at this point in their life. That can (and will!) change, from one day to the next as well as year to year. Meet them where they are. Recognize your own gendered assumptions and let them be quashed!
Encourage and enable equal participation!
Be aware of all of the campers in any group. Reach out to the quieter ones in a way that does not shame or embarrass them, and don’t only respond to the louder or more assertive campers. By adapting your leadership style to different campers, you will create a space in which they feel that they can contribute and participate.
Crack the clique
It’s a thing that happens in many spaces and situations. Cliques form. Campers band together in a way that excludes other campers. As a counsellor, work to promote positive relationships within your cabin. Build your community up, and celebrate each of your campers in a way that the entire cabin recognizes. Take the time to discuss issues within your cabin, champion vulnerability and encourage ownership of feelings and emotions.
Summer camp can be such a powerful, game-changing environment in which campers can learn from each other, be themselves, and have the opportunity to try so many things. They can shed the expectations that parents/guardians/teachers/society have of them, which is an empowering experience.
As a camp counsellor, your influence on your campers cannot be understated so finding an intentional, authentic and open-minded approach to leading any group is so important.