For the past 9 years, I have been working in Gan Izzy Day Camps all over the world. I always thought to myself, what attracts a typical Jewish child from public school to attend a Chabad camp?
I came to the conclusion that it is the counselors that make a huge impression on the children. Chabad girls are motivated, energized and dedicated. Children know that in Chabad counselors are both cool and they care.
That is why it’s such a pity that at almost every single one of my camp experiences, I have felt mistreated by the directors.
I don’t think it’s intentional. They were all good people, dedicated to Shlichus and were working really hard. But there was this unintentional neglect that caused some of my summers to end in a negative feeling.
The directors seem to underestimate the huge responsibility and work of counselors. We aren’t coming to your city to make money, yet we give out heart and soul to inspire the campers and make them happy – under the beating sunshine or pouring rain.
In many respects, the enjoyment of the campers very much depends on the mood of the counselors. In order to put a smile on our face and greet each camper with excitement, we need to feel the same from the directors – and we don’t always do…
So what will make your day camp counselors happy? Counselors really don’t need a lot. A few basics and an attitude that you care about them do the trick. Here are 5 points that are worth remembering:
1. Food- this may seem silly to you, but if your staff is not well fed and does not have a stocked fridge they will already start having less energy and a negative attitude
2. Respect- just like any employer to their employee counselors need to be treated with respect and not “slaves”, we are people who have feelings and are working very hard just like you.
3. Trips- after camp trips and Sunday trips are a must, they need time to let go and be a kid again after disciplining children all day, these trips don’t have to be so elaborate just something small even a picnic in the park to show that you appreciate the work they are doing for you.
4. Don’t take advantage of them- they signed up to be counselors to instill yiddishkeit into children that would otherwise have no contact with Yiddishkeit and to give the campers a good time. They did not sign up to be babysitters, janitors, or your assistant.
5. Appreciation- thank you’s are great but actions speak louder than words. Show them through small gifts or act appreciative towards them.
I hope that my message was brought across and that all directors of day camps take these important and fundamental aspects into consideration.