Children s Camp Counselor Certification Course. MidSouth District Church of the Nazarene

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1 Children s Camp Counselor Certification Course MidSouth District Church of the Nazarene Please read the following information carefully. When finished, complete the Certification Agreement at the end and mail to the address provided. So, you want to be a camp counselor! How did it happen? Did you forget to plan a good excuse for the week? Do you feel like you have to fulfill your duty to the district and you think kids camp is better than youth camp? Or are you genuinely excited about the ministry potential of camp? I hope it s the latter. Whatever the reason that you have chosen to be a Camp Counselor, have confidence that God can equip you to minister to the needs of those in your cabin this summer. The counselor challenge The counselor is one of the most important factors in the success of a child s summer camp experience. During the camp the counselor spends more time with the campers than a Sunday school teacher spends with them during an entire year. As a counselor you will supervise a group of boys or girls living in the outdoors with their minds alert and their hearts open to God. Think of this fact often and give your campers the very best that you have in mind, heart and soul. Next to campers, counselors are the most important persons at camp and here s why 1. You will spend more time with the campers that any other adult. 2. You will set the tone for the children in your cabin during their stay at camp. 3. You will be the model of Christ-likeness your campers look up to. 4. You serve as temporary parents for your campers this week. You are responsible for each camper s health and well-being. 5. You are there when your kids have questions about God and becoming a Christian. 6. You are responsible for the behavior, or misbehavior, of your campers. See the Camp Discipline section for some practical helps. Purpose for camp counselor certification To provide the training necessary to help each prospective camp counselor to effectively lead their campers physically, emotionally and spiritually. Camp goals 1. To lead non-believers to faith in Jesus Christ. 2. To lead believers into a life of discipleship. Qualifications for camp counselors 1. Must have a current personal relationship with the Lord. 2. Must be 18 years of age or older. 3. Must have a recommendation from the local church pastor. 4. Must submit a completed application and pass a background screening. Counselor Certification Course page 1

2 Ensure camp is a positive experience for all campers. Camp Counselor Job Description 1. Get to know your campers. Know each camper s name age abilities spiritual lives medical needs feelings whereabouts at all times 2. Really be with your campers. Eat together Play together Win together Lose together Laugh together Cry together Worship together The children in your cabin are your responsibility while they are at camp. Become involved in your campers lives so you can make the most of this 24-hour ministry opportunity. Don t worry. Camp directors realize that you need time to rest and replenish your energy. They will do their best to provide times when the children will be properly supervised while you relax. However, promise yourself that you will make ministering to your campers your top priority, and you will leave them only when the camp director has scheduled time off. 3. Pray together Remember the Christian camp is not simply entertainment. It is serious ministry. Your campers come to you with different needs. Find out what these needs may be and pray for them specifically. Let your campers know you are praying for them. Remember your actions should be examples of Christian manhood or womanhood for your campers. You are making strong statements about what it means to be a Christian on the playing field, in the cabin, in the dining hall, and in every moment of the day. What you do will be remembered far more than what you say. If your campers indicate an interest in salvation at any time, be prepared to assist them. If you are working with the child at the altar, use these suggestions to help you: a. If you don t know the child s name ask what it is and inquire why he came to pray. Don t assume anything. b. Encourage the child to talk to God about his need. Pray silently with the camper as he prays. c. If the camper doesn t know how to pray, explain that prayer is simply talking to God. Lead in a simple prayer if needed. d. Ask the camper to tell, in his own words, what God did for him. You may need to assist, but don t prompt. If needed, lead the child through 1 John 1:9 substituting the child s name for the first person pronoun. As a camp counselor you are the spiritual leader of your cabin. Involve your campers in group and personal devotions each day. 4. Lead your campers In addition to spiritual leadership, you will be leading your campers in a variety of other areas. Remember they don t expect or want you to be just one of the gang. They look to you for leadership. a. Lead by example Show all kinds of attitudes you want your campers to exhibit. When something needs to be done, such as grounds cleanup, be one of the first to pitch in and help. Look for opportunities to lead by example. Counselor Certification Course page 2

3 b. Lead with authority You are the director of the camp in your cabin. Don t shirk your authority. You are responsible for ensuring that all camp rules and regulations are observed. If you must lay down the law, temper it with the guidelines for the leaders in Ephesians 6. You don t have to be a dictator to be an authoritative leader. Lead in Christian love. c. Lead by consensus Camp is not run by children, but it is run for children. Even in the tightest schedule there are some choices. Whenever there are viable alternatives, lead by consensus. Find out what your campers want. Don t try to live out your own camp fantasies through your campers. This is their week. When they have genuine options, let them choose. Be careful, however, not to give options where none exist. You are responsible to see that your campers are involved in all the regularly scheduled activities of camp. d. Lead by encouragement Camp is a time for growing. For some it will be a totally new and, perhaps frightening experience. Be sensitive to the shy child, or the one who lacks confidence. Invite these children to participate fully in the camp s activities, but don t force them. Force will only make them more resistant to your efforts to involve them. Demonstrate that you are confident your campers can do things they feel inadequate to do. If a first attempt should fail, encourage additional tries until they are successful. Do not allow anyone to ridicule the child who doesn t quite reach his goal. Encourage your campers to believe in themselves by believing in them yourself. Health and Safety You are responsible for the health and safety of all the children assigned to your cabin 24 hours a day. 1. See that all medicines are turned in to the camp nurse as soon as your campers arrive. 2. Ensure that all campers in your cabin take their needed medication as scheduled. 3. See that each of your campers bathes and wears reasonably clean clothes daily. 4. Encourage your campers to eat at meal times and to drink throughout the day. 5. Campers should be within eye sight at all times. 6. In case of accident or injury, notify the camp nurse immediately. Camp Discipline 1. Arrive as early as possible in order to greet the first camper that arrives. 2. Be familiar with the camp rules. 3. Establish your authority on the first day. 4. Explain the camp rules to your campers. Make sure they understand what is expected of them and the consequences if they disobey. 5. Encourage respect among your campers. 6. Let your campers suggest rules that can make cabin life easier for everyone. 7. Let campers help you set consequences for breaking cabin rules. 8. Be consistent! This is the most difficult, but also the most important aspect of camp discipline. 9. Go to the Camp Director if a problem begins to get out of hand. 10. Know where your campers are at all times. Appropriate Disciplinary Actions No matter how well prepared you are, you may have to take corrective measures together. Some may not know you, and you need to show that you will consistently and fairly enforce the rules. However, the actions you take should be appropriate to the child s misbehavior. NEVER make a threat you are not willing to carry out. Appropriate forms of punishment include: restriction from privileges, such as loss of ten minutes of swim time or creek time, removing the offender from the group for a limited amount of time and taking the offender to the camp director. Any form of corporal punishment as well as verbal humiliation or yelling is UNACCEPTABLE and will not be tolerated. Counselor Certification Course page 3

4 Handling Homesickness For many children camp is their first opportunity to be out on their own. This can be a frightening experience if the child is not properly prepared. It is important to understand how to deal with homesickness. What is homesickness? 1. Homesickness is a physical upset brought about by the anxiety of being in unfamiliar circumstances. 2. Homesickness can be serious physical discomfort, including nausea and vomiting. 3. If homesickness is not dealt with promptly, the anxiety deepens. 4. The anxiety associated with homesickness is lessened when the child is actively involved in something that interests him. 5. The anxiety associated with homesickness is lessened when the child feels accepted by those at camp, and has established a comfortable routine. Strategies for dealing with homesickness 1. When the child reports that he is ill, take the report seriously. Visit the camp nurse for a diagnosis. 2. Comfort and reassure the child that his feelings are valid ones. Encourage the child to talk about the way he feels. Point out that many campers feel homesick for a while but they usually feel better after making friends. 3. Direct the child to activities that will be interesting. 4. Praise the child sincerely for his accomplishments. Help the camper realize that camp is a place where he can succeed on his own. It may sound like being a counselor is a lot of responsibility. It is. But it is also one of the finest ministry opportunities you will ever have. What do I do next? 1. Complete the enclosed Certification Agreement, the Volunteer Staff Application, Background Screening Consent forms and return them to the address provided. (Note: Completion of the Camp Counselor Certification Course does not guarantee acceptance as a Camp Counselor.) 2. Upon verification of references, and review of all information and totality of circumstances, the applicant will be notified by the Camp Director of eligibility. Adapted from the Children s Camp Director s Handbook Kansas City, MO. Counselor Certification Course page 4

5 Camp Counselor Certification Agreement I verify that I have read all the enclosed material and understand what is expected of me as a camp counselor. I verify that I meet all the requirements to be a camp counselor as outlined in the course materials. I also understand that certification in this program does not mean that I will be accepted as a camp counselor. Printed name: Address: City/State/Zip: first last Phone: Church: home work cell (if a First Church please include name of city) Pastor: signature date Return this completed and signed agreement (this page only) to the address below. Or submit it to your children s pastor/director to be included with the church s camp registrations. Children s Camp Staff Director Michelle Lunsford 2713 Fly Road Santa Fe, TN Counselor Certification Course page 5

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