"Day Camp is for the camper, not necessarily for the ease, convenience, or enjoyment of the staff"
That’s the Day Camp philosophy motto that all of our high school counselors memorize at Day Camp Counselor Training. It serves as a reminder that, as counselors, the teens need to put aside their own desires or agendas and serve the children.
While it is true that Day Camp is for the camper, Day Camp is also for the teens. I see Day Camp as a great leadership development opportunity. Here is a list of leadership principles that our South Baptist teens are learning through the Day Camp ministry:
Leadership involves service. These teens are giving up their time and a lot of their energy to serve the children in their group. In humility, they are considering the needs of their campers as more important than their own.
Leadership requires responsibility. Counselors are trained that they are responsible for their campers safety, both physically and emotionally.
Leadership takes authority: In most cases these young adults have only ever been under authority. When they serve as counselors they step up into an authority role. It is a joy to watch as they grow into this throughout the week.
Leadership includes followership: This year we added a new leadership position over the counselors. This position was filled by four college students (who grew in leadership, too). Their job was to be responsible for 7 or 8 counselors. These college students served, but also led the counselors. The counselors knew that they were part of a larger team. They needed to follow instructions and submit to the authority over them to make things run smoothly.
Leadership demands initiative: It has been interesting to watch this generation of young people–often called the “entertain-me” generation–leading in songs, games, and other activities. For this week, they put down their video games, iPods, and phones and took initiative to generate fun and excitement for the campers in their group.
They also learn other leadership skills like communication, problem-solving, perseverance, etc. I am so grateful for the Day Camp ministry, not only for the spiritual impact it has on children, but for the impact it has on our teens too. Day Camp is for the camper… but it’s also for teens too!