I have had the wonderful privilege of working with camps all across the world for many, many years.
We just finished our Summer Ministry Conference at Bob Jones University, in which many camps came to recruit counselors and staff for this coming summer. We hope many of our students – and many college-aged young people around the world – take the opportunity to consider spending at least one summer ministering at a camp.
You will not regret it.
But what should a camp worker be like? What character traits should define someone who counsels or serves at a camp? I sat down a month ago with some students who worked at camps this past summer and together we came up with five qualities that are essential for an effective camp worker.
- Flexibility – Camp workers cannot have a set schedule. The weather is unpredictable, and even more so, the actions of young campers are unpredictable. The counselor needs to be willing to adjust to any new situation, no matter how inconvenient. Campers may need your counsel late at night or early in the morning or during a game time. An effective camp worker will always be willing to stop whatever they are doing to minister to camper needs.
- Endurance – Going to camp is not the easiest thing you can do with your summer! Perhaps you think the whole summer at camp will just be all great. Those who have worked at camp know how far that is from the truth. At some point, you will hit the brick wall of sheer exhaustion and think, “I can’t do this!” But this is the point where God reminds you that He has you there for a reason. And He can supply the energy – impossible though it seems – to keep serving.
- Pursuit of God – The amount of messages and Bible teaching a camp worker experiences can lead to apathy about the Bible. The camp worker cannot assume that their mere presence at a Christian camp will guarantee great passion for God. Camp staffers must prioritize their own walk with the Lord, even as they seek to help their campers take that next step in their Christian walk. If the camp worker does not have a passion for Christ, why would their campers?
- Transparency – Perhaps some students hesitate to work at camp because they do not feel they are qualified. But some of the best counselors are those who struggle and are open about their struggle. Perfect people do not make good counselors because they are fake – there is no perfect camp worker! But the counselor who is open and honest with their campers will find their campers will be more open with them.
- Joy –You will hear a lot of hard things from campers, but you must personally demonstrate joy when you talk with them – and even when you cry with them. You must show each camper that they can still have joy, no matter their circumstances. An effective camp worker will smile, sometimes even through tears.
We hope you will consider spending this summer at a camp. God can use you to change the lives of campers – and also your own life!