When many of the sessions do their co-prefs tonight, the age old debate of counselor vs. specialist will be highlighted once again. In this article, Bubbles gives her thoughts on her different experiences as both a counselor and a specialist. Read on to see how the two roles differ in their responsibilities, but also how both contribute greatly to the experience of camp.
1. The “mom/dad” at camp.
2. A volunteer who supervises a unit of campers with another counselor, as well as program and direct activities for their specific unit.
The Unit 3 counselors did a great job programming unit night! They really got to their campers’ yoke last night.
1. The “cool aunt/uncle” at camp.
2. A volunteer who focuses on and is skilled in a specific rotation, or activity, such as archery, pool, arts & crafts, dance, mountain biking, alpine, nature/fishing, or I-games.
Unit 12’s boys love going to Dance because the specialists are so fun!
What with co-prefs (co-counselor/specialist preferences) coming up, volunteers struggle not only with who to pref, but also what to pref: counselor or specialist? Thinking back on my camp experience, I’m exceptionally glad that I’ve had the pleasure of being both a Dance Specialist and a UniCorps Advisor. While they were very different from each other, they were very different roles that I think play to different skills and strengths that you may have.
I began as a Dance Specialist, and I’m very grateful for having that experience before I took on the role of a counselor. Very early on, I was under the impression that specialists had less pressure to be authoritative – something that I had struggled with. Because specialists lead rotations and not units, specialists in nature have a little less contact with the campers. However, I soon learned that as a specialist, I didn’t get to know a unit of campers – I got to know almost all of them. I loved being able to see all of the units, each of which boasted a unique personality. I was worried that this meant I wouldn’t come to get to know campers on a deeper level – you know, cracking-the-egg, reaching- the-yoke type stuff. However, once I got adopted into a unit, I got to participate in unit activities and ended up having that counselor experience with the girls. I even felt like I was able to make that connection with campers in several different units because I got to see and know all of the campers who came to dance rotation. I loved every moment I had as a specialist and I honestly can’t say that I have any regrets from being a specialist.
Being a counselor is something very different. While being a specialist required creativity, teamwork, and the ability to entertain for groups at a time, being a counselor required a lot more internal reflection. I knew that tone setting and being authoritative was so much more essential in having a successful week. Not only would I have to make sure that my campers were safe and sound 24/7, I would also be responsible for making sure that they follow the rules, fulfill their duties, and most of all, have fun! I thought there was so more much pressure. However, what I didn’t realize was that, although I would face more challenges being a counselor, I would also learn so much more about the campers and myself. It’s true that I got a lot less sleep as a counselor, but through endless days of what felt like herding sheep and long nights debriefing and prepping in the cabin, I learned my limits, my abilities, how to have patience, and so many other skills… but most of all, how to see the light in everyone and every situation I was in.
I had very different experiences being a specialist and a counselor. In the end, however, I found the same Woodsey magic that I fell in love with so early on. I learned such important lessons that were unique to each role, and I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am to have been both roles. Good luck to everyone going into co-prefs!
Counselor vs. Specialist, what are your thoughts?
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