These days, camp counselors need to be teachers, shrinks,
medics, mediators -- and pals
Friday, March 10, 2000
©2000 San Francisco Chronicle
-- Leave it to the University of California at Berkeley to
put a Ph.D. in charge of staff training at summer camps. But
as Jennifer Selke, 32, prepares for her first summer as staff
coordinator at Strawberry Canyon Recreation Program, she feels
her doctorate in education psychology will never come in more
handy. ``Camp counselors have a tremendous amount of impact
on a young person's life,'' she says. ``And it's my job to
help train some of the coaches and counselors that being a
role model may sound simple, but it's going to be one of the
toughest jobs they ever have.''
few weeks during the summer -- anywhere from one to six, depending
on the program -- a child's life will be molded, not by parents
and teachers, but by these camp counselors. They range from
fresh-faced high school freshmen to adults in their 40s, many
with children and careers of their own. . .
28, is a Whitewater Voyages counselor whose day job is writing
for San Francisco Web site MyPrimeTime.com, and he agrees
that a whitewater rafting adventure is a great place for young
people to learn important skills like teamwork and leadership.
Nothing is as fulfilling to him as seeing a ``shy young kid
suddenly step up and take over the guide position. I can see
him become transformed.'' Noone says that the responsibility
of leading these journeys is ``awesome,'' and that he really
feels strongly that he needs to be a good role model for the
to be able to exhibit skills like cooperation, leadership
and teamwork. Luckily, the sport itself brings out those qualities,''
he says. Not all day camp counselors have to be skilled river
rafters, but the roles are changing, no matter what camp a
being a camp counselor is less like being a glorified baby-sitter,
and more like being part psychologist, part medic and full-time
friend. Of course, camp counseling isn't usually a sink-or-swim
situation.. . .