Credit: Kidsday illustration / Giavanna Battista

Imagine spending your days outside with kids and no Wi-Fi. Does that sound like fun to you?

I didn’t think so either, but I was wrong. When I was first approached with the opportunity to spend my summer days as a camp counselor, I completely rejected the opportunity, thinking it would be boring. The reality of being a camp counselor is the complete opposite — you learn so many valuable things. You learn to be a role model and to make a difference. I also learned life skills.

When you’re a camp counselor, you learn to be a great leader, you show kids how to make crafts and you help them along the way. One part of being a leader is to make the kids comfortable while playing sports. You also teach them the importance of good sportsmanship. Some of the kids don’t try their hardest because they’re not comfortable when they play sports in camp.

Being a good role model is also very important. To become a role model, working as a camp counselor is one of the best choices. The kids look up to you, and sometimes the other workers might even look up to you, too. People are always looking for role models, especially in school. Knowing that others are looking up to you is one of the best feelings.

Everyone wants to make a difference in life, right? Sometimes, it might be hard to get a good start to your journey. If you’re looking to make a difference, camp counseling might be a good choice for you. Some short-term summer camps are volunteer, which means you don’t get paid, but it still helps your community. You help by helping the parents if they need some way for someone to watch their kids during the day.

In camp, you all work together. This can help create new friendships that are long-lasting. You and the other counselors have to solve problems between the campers and other situations, making it hard to stay silent. I think making small talk with other counselors and the kids will help you get familiar with how the schedule works.

The final tip I would give is to never give up. Don’t get discouraged if the kids don’t bother talking to you at first. They’re just as nervous as you are. Doing this has made the past two summers the best summers ever.

Jeanette Merola and Janet Renganeschi's sixth-grade class, Udall Road Middle School, West Islip