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Welcome to Camp Sunshine: A Message for New Counselors!




Are you a first-time Camp Sunshine counselor? Not sure what to expect when you arrive to volunteer at Camp Sunshine? No need to worry! As we prepare for our first sessions of Camp Sunshine, we’re thrilled to share some reassurance from longtime volunteer Kayla Backus. From volunteer counselor to now a member of our leadership team, Kayla has served in many roles at Camp Sunshine. She’s also a “PAL,” which stands for “Professional Alumni Leader.” PALs are experienced volunteers who are available to be a resource and point of contact for you during your time at Camp Sunshine! If you have a question, need help, or just want to connect with someone, your PAL is the person who should be able to help! Here are some words of encouragement from someone who has been there: 

What is the process when you first get to camp?

When you first arrive to camp, it will be the evening before campers arrive. We have an initial meeting where you find out who your camper is, get to know who is in your cabin, meet the leadership team, and find out what to expect over the next few days. It is very exciting to be arriving to camp for the first time as a counselor, and also can be a little nerve-wracking. The purpose of this meeting is to make you feel as comfortable and prepared as possible for the next four days!

I was very nervous arriving for my first time. I was a counselor at Camp Blodgett first, and I remember getting this wave of emotion as I parked my car and walked across the street to check in. I was nervous about the entire process. What the needs of my camper would be, if there would be that instant friendship with my camper, and if I would be a good counselor. These feelings are normal!!! And there are so many people here to support you and cheer you on, because this is truly a once in a lifetime kind of experience and relationship you get to form so quickly. 

What do you wish someone would have told you on that first day?

Be flexible!! Lots of things can change at camp throughout the day depending on weather, volunteers available, etc. So be willing to hop into another activity at the last minute, regardless of what the schedule says!


Counselor Training

This is time to get to know your cabin, find out who your camper is, get to know your PAL, and ask any questions you have. We also go over your general policies and procedures, just like with anything! You will be more than prepared to welcome your camper after this meeting!


Experienced counselors in your cabin, your cabin PAL, and anyone with a red or yellow lanyard on at camp are your supporters! We are more than willing to help you with anything, so please please reach out if you need anything! Your PAL will be there for anything. It is their role to support YOU, and we are more than happy to do so in any way. 


Meeting Campers

What do you do when you first meet your camper?

Some campers are going to run and hug you the second they meet you, and others are going to be a little quieter. When your camper checks into camp, they will call your name and you come up to the front to meet your camper. You will then get to walk into camp together with a line of people cheering (either super loud, or super quiet cheers depending on camper preference!). Meeting my camper for the first time was always one of my favorite parts of camp. 


Advice for first time counselors?

Be your best and most authentic self. This isn’t an environment where you will ever be judged. We love everyone for exactly who they are. You will be your campers BEST friend once these four days are over, and it is truly one of the most special bonds ever. 

Meals

How do meals work?

We have three meals a day! Generally, there is coffee available all day! We also feed you at the evening counselor reflection meeting at the end of the day after campers go to bed! 

How can counselors best support their campers at mealtime? You sit where your camper wants to sit at meals! It is really their time to sit by their friends and hang out with their best friends at camp (think about when you were young at camp heading into the dining hall with your best friends after a fun-filled day!). It is fun to get to know others at camp as well, whether that be campers or counselors! Some of my best friends I have met during my time at Camp Sunshine!


Counselor meetings

Counselor meetings are a chance to reflect on the day. It is frequent that you will laugh till you cry, or just cry from pure joy that so many people get to experience at Camp Sunshine throughout the day. 


Any memorable moments from counselor meetings?

Last summer, I was a PAL for two guy cabins. Many of them were new counselors and to hear their stories each night of the days they had brought me to tears almost every night. It is incredible to see you all grow as a person in just four short days. This place truly can change your life if you let it. 


Any other thoughts to share?Come into camp ready to give your all to your camper. This is the MOST welcoming environment in the world. Just be your true authentic self! Your camper will love you for exactly who you are!

What to do if you’re nervous at camp

Text, call, or find your PAL! We’ve got you and are here to support you in any way!!


Welcome to Camp Sunshine!

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