Working at a Girl Scout Camp by Maggie Robinson

Of all the different first jobs a young person could have, summer camp counselor is simply the best. Other regular jobs won’t leave a young person with as well-rounded a skill set as summer camp and in my (incredibly-biased) opinion, being a Girl Scout summer camp counselor is even better for introducing young minds to the workforce. Growing up I had two dreams: become a world famous best-selling author and be a Unit Leader at Camp Blue Bay. Thanks to my experience working at summer camp, I’ve already been able to achieve one of my lifelong goals! (And as soon as I finish my novel, I’ll complete the other one…) 

It all started 15 years ago. I was 8 years old and enjoying the sleepaway experience at Camp Blue Bay for the very first time, but my camp counselors were an enigma to me. They were teenagers and college kids who were also adults, and they were cool but also responsible?? I had never met a person like that before. They were friendly and helpful when I misplaced my water bottle daily, considerate and caring when I had a small bout of homesickness, and they were punctual leaders who got us from activity to activity with enough time to play a game in between. Most importantly, they were FUN! My Blue Bay counselors embodied everything I hoped to be when I grew up, which made it a little scary once I was finally ready to step into their dirty, beat-up sneakers and lead the campers myself.

Six years ago, when I started my first summer on staff at Camp Blue Bay, I arrived at staff training with an ache in my stomach partly due to nerves and partly due to drinking too much water on the drive! I would be joining a unit of counselors who were some of the very same people that made me love camp so much in the first place. They made me feel welcome, and were responsible for the excitement I felt upon returning summer after summer. And suddenly, I was expected to create that same magic for a new generation of campers. It was a momentous task, but one that I soon realized I had been preparing for ever since I first stepped off the bus as a Blue Bay Camper. Just as I was inspired by the authors of my favorite books as a child, I was inspired by the lessons subconsciously learned from my Girl Scout camp counselors.

To be a good camp counselor is to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong. Due to the culture of Girl Scouts–which promotes leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork skills, the transition from carefree camper to sunny staff member wasn’t too hard to manage. All I had to do was think back to the Girl Scout Law. As I grew up even more and started finding employment in other fields, the skills I learned from working at camp and being a Girl Scout continued to prove invaluable to my success.

I spent four summers as a general unit counselor, two as a Unit Leader, and this summer I will be on Camp Blue Bay’s administration team as Unit Life Director, which means I get to help usher in a new generation of staff. All of the lessons learned from my years of playing and working at camp will be passed down to new staff who will help today’s Girl Scout campers enjoy the sleepaway experience. Even after my summers at camp are over and I’ve rolled up my sleeping bag for the last time, I know that the culture all Girl Scout camp counselors work to maintain within our camps will never fade. Consciously or not, we just won’t let that happen.

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