Transitioning from JC to Counselor
By Beth Lester
I first started going to sleep away camp when I was ten years old. By the end of the first day I knew that camp was the place for me. I dreamt about the day when I would finally become a counselor! Imagine, a grown-up getting to be at camp, teaching activities that I love—tennis rocks, other sports—which definitely sounded way more fun than my parents’ jobs of sitting inside all day!
When I turned seventeen, and the time to be a junior counselor arrived, I was beyond excited. Being a JC was the next step towards finally getting to be a counselor. The summer of 2012 came and went, and before I knew it I was sitting at my computer filling out the Camp North Star counselor application. Although I was definitely nervous about the responsibility that would came with being a counselor, I excited for my first summer on staff.
The transition from JC to counselor is strange. While JC’s are technically “new staff” they really fall somewhere in between “new” and “returning.” They’re the grey, when it comes to something that is generally considered black and white. In a cabin of three counselors: returner, new staff, recent JC—the JC knows more than the new staff, but significantly less than the returner. But it’s nice; we balance each other out, filling in the gaps when needed.
Making the transition from JC to counselor last summer was definitely a lesson in ego. I learned that I had come into the summer a bit too confident because I felt like I knew the ins and outs. At the same time, it was uplifting to be learning new things along side other people, and to be getting professional advice from my former counselors.
So, arriving last summer—June 2013—it was a surreal experience. It felt like I was an old pro at the logistically parts of being a counselor—daily routines, classes, where buildings were—but when it came to the behind the scenes—discipline, being the campers’ guardian, building rapport—I was as lost as all of the other new counselors. But after the first 48 hours, everything fell into place. All information vomited upon us during our 10-day orientation suddenly became useful and became part of my daily life interactions with campers. I finally found my niche and went with it, and didn’t stop until the last camper scooted out of camp in late August.