As a kid I loved Summer Camp, and always dreamed of being a camp counselor. I was hired to work at YMCA Camp Seymour my freshman year of college, where I was christened “Atlas” for my love of travel. I worked there for as long as I could, even staffing most weekends during my Master’s and first year of teaching. Because camp is so fundamental to my identity, I have naturally brought Camp into the classroom. Here are five ways that Camp is an invaluable experience for teachers.
You can’t go wrong with a funny repeat-after-me song. Are any teacher prep programs training teachers to lead songs that get kids up and moving?
Whenever my students need a good incentive, I say we’ll play a game. Not just a dumb game like Heads-Up-7-up (Why is that the only game teachers know how to play?), but a variety of games that you can find on a ton of good camp websites.
“Give Johnny a round of applause!” gets old after a few weeks. Having kids do the Ketchup clap or the Cheese clap is not only entertaining but it gets their bodies involved.
One of the most important things that my Camp Director taught me was to make sure you are touching your kids.
Now in this day and age, I know that a male even saying that makes people uneasy, but putting the unfortunate reasons for this aside, I believe teachers need to touch their students. All kids benefit from friendly, safe touches from their teachers, male or female. Camp taught me so many funny handshakes, quick hugs and clap games that I wouldn’t have learned had I not been a camp counselor.
At camp, it’s totally normal (and expected) that very camper gets a hello and a hi-five from passing camp counselors. Surprisingly, this is not a practice that I have seen in schools. At one point in time, I got so good at camp that I could almost memorize the 300 campers’ names by the end of the week. Teachers should do better with their 180 days of hallway interactions.
My advice is use the resources available to camp counselors, such as My Summer Camps, and Ultimate Camp Resource to bring joy to your classroom, and encourage parents to send their kids to camp over the summer.