5 reasons summer camp counselors are the hardest working people ever!

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We’re nearly halfway through summer camp, and we’ve had a lot of fun so far! This year at Camp Fletcher, we have one of the largest teams of summer staff we’ve ever had. Each of our counselors were hand-selected and had to endure a week-long training session before they became Camp Fletcher counselor because know that being a counselor is super hard work, and not everyone is cut out for it! From dealing with the heat and unexpected to rain to keeping their attention focused all day, we know that counselors have to be energetic, dedicated and caring. Today we’ve got five reasons why summer camp counselors are the hardest working people ever!

counselors 1The great outdoors: We all know summers in the south are hot and humid, but the counselors at Camp Fletcher fearlessly agree to spend their summer months outside. Yes, they get to swim and spend time in the lake, but all the hiking and canoeing can get hot – not to mention the bugs! Our counselors don’t mind, though, because they know that getting outside and getting active is super important.

Think fast: Being a camp counselor means you have to be resilient, flexible, and you have to think on your feet. Caring for a group of campers every day can get a little hectic, and our counselors are experts at keeping their cool. They know how to adapt, and they can deal with unforeseen problems. They know that keeping our campers safe and having fun is key, and keeping that in mind at all times means making good, quick decisions.

It gets kind of dirty: From the lake and mud to pies in their faces, our counselors endure a lot of dirt throughout the summer. They make sacrifices (like leading songs or getting thrown in the pool) so our campers can have a great time. They’re not afraid to get their hands dirty, even though their showers probably aren’t as long as they would like.counselors 2

It’s all about WoHeLo: Being a camp counselor means spending your summer investing in your campers, and this can be hard work! Our counselors value your kids, and they want to see them be the best version of themselves. At Camp Fletcher, this means talking about work, health and love every day and making sure our campers are building character and making good choices. They’re not just teaching them how to canoe or shoot an arrow – our counselors are teaching values that our campers will carry with them years into the future.

It’s never about them: A big part of being a camp counselor is being in the camp community! Your coworkers become your family, and that means that our counselors can build relationships, work together and be a team player. They invest all of themselves into camp, and they give 110% every single day. Our counselors work hard to make Camp Fletcher a home for our campers, and we know that’s one of the reasons they come back each and every year.

We believe that a summer at Camp Fletcher can be a life-changing experience, but that wouldn’t be possible without all of our amazing counselors. They work hard all summer, and we’re so thankful they call Camp Fletcher home!

Nurse Spotlight: Ms. Erika!

Today, we are so excited to share a very special spotlight with you! Nurse Erika is our camp nurse, and she does a great job of keeping campers healthy & safe during summer programming. This summer is Ms. Erika’s 5th summer with us at Camp Fletcher, and we are so happy to have such an awesome health professional on our team!

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What is your favorite part about working at Camp Fletcher?
My favorite part of working at Camp Fletcher is being able to not only see returning campers with all of their excitement, but to meet the new ones and watch them fall in love with camp, also. I love hearing about their favorite activities and how they’ve made so many new friends.

In your opinion, what makes Camp Fletcher the best way to spend a summer?
In my opinion, Camp Fletcher is the best way to spend the summer because it’s an opportunity to unplug from the world that is run by outlets. At camp, there’s no need for tv, video games, and iPads. Instead, there’s not enough time for capture the flag, freeze tag, tug of war, canoeing, Marco Polo in the pool, archery, and making friendship bracelets for all of your new best friends.

What is your favorite spot at camp?
That’s a tough one. I would say it’s a tie between standing on the porch of Starflight while the sun is setting behind me or being at the field pavilion the night of the camp out. The only light is the light from the fire, the lights that are strung up around the pavilion, and the stars above. Tents are set up, hammocks are stretched from tree to tree, and laughter fills the air from making s’mores by the fire. Both places are breathtaking and put life into perspective.

What are some goals you have for camp this summer?
My goal for camp this summer is to make sure that I’ve done everything that I can do as camp nurse to ensure the safety and well-being of every camper, counselor, and staff member.

What is the most interesting/exciting/strangest thing that has happened to you since you’ve been working at Camp Fletcher?
Something exciting happened last summer early one morning. A small bird, likely a Finch, found her way into the dining hall and was flying around frantically trying to find her way back out. We were able, after what seemed like a long time, to catch her safely. I took her to the Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park. There they made sure she didn’t have any injuries and released her into her natural habitat. It was pretty neat to be a part of that.

We are so thrilled to have Ms. Erika as our camp nurse, and we are so thankful for everything she does to take care of our campers, counselors and staff members. Thank you, Ms. Erika!

Camp Fletcher Leaders

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At Camp Fletcher, summer camp isn’t just about hikes and swimming and s’mores; it’s about growing and learning, and we’re able to watch as our campers find their place and learn more about who they are. Each and every summer, we witness amazing transformations: shy kids become loud and expressive, everyone is forced out of their comfort zone and into new territory, groups of campers who’ve never met become a close family. This is the magic of a summer at Camp Fletcher, and it’s one of the things we love most about working here. When kids come to camp, they’re going to learn and do a lot, but the most important thing they will learn is how to be a leader. While they might not have a title or a leadership role, each and every camper has the chance to learn to lead, and we know this makes a huge difference in how they behave and the choices they make all year long. By learning flexibility, personal responsibility and building strong character, we know our campers are learning what it takes to be a leader in their schools, friend groups, sports teams and wherever else they go once summer camp ends.

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The ability to be flexible is so important in life, and it’s something our campers learn from experience. Things don’t always go as planned: it rains, your team loses, a schedule change means you have to wait a little longer to try a new activity. Life happens, even at camp, and our campers learn to adapt to these changes. They learn from doing, because this is something that just comes with being at camp. They also learn from watching, because our staff and counselors are excellent at adapting to change, being flexible and keeping a great attitude.

Even though we have great staff that works hard to keep our campers safe, we also make sure to teach them personal responsibility. We want our campers to learn outdoor safety, and how to make good and safe decisions when they’re taking risks. Each camper learns to be responsible for his or her own actions, and they’re able to see the consequences of both good and bad choices. When our campers choose to have a good attitude, get involved, and support their peers, they will have a great time at camp. Each day, campers have countless opportunities to make good decisions that will positively impact their camp experience and improve their lives in the future.

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Camp is so very different from anything else kids experience. They spend a lot of time with people they’ve never met, and they’re pushed every day to try new things. Good leaders are people that can assist others well, and our campers are expected to be helpful and kind every single day. In sports and other team building activities, our campers learn to be supportive, to be a good winner and a good loser, and to try their best. They are encouraged to be kind, to communicate well and to be honest and loyal. Whether they know it or not, all of these positive characteristics are helping them become strong leaders every single day.

Whether it’s their first summer at Camp Fletcher, or their last, all of our campers will develop leadership skills while they’re with us. Our goal is to build strong and confident leaders that make a positive impact in their families, their schools and their communities. We know how great the world can be when campers become leaders, and it all starts with a summer at Camp Fletcher.

Pine Needle Express – Week 4

This week is going to be an exciting week at Camp Fletcher because it’s our very first week of Resident Camp for the 2015 summer! We’re so excited to have both resident campers and day campers this week, and we know it’s going to be a ton of fun. We’ve got everything you need to know about this week’s programming in the newest edition of the Pine Needle Express, so be sure to download the Pine Needle Express Issue 5 or view it below.

To all our campers joining us this week – Welcome to Camp Fletcher!

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Lifeguard Spotlight: Ms. Julia

Ms. Julia currently lives in McCalla, Alabama. She is new to this area having moved here last summer when her husband experienced a job transfer. Her background is in technical writing for manufacturers of consumer goods. This is Ms. Julia’s first year at Camp Fletcher!

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What made you choose Camp Fletcher?
I noticed Camp Fletcher as I was driving around familiarizing myself with this area. I loved camping as a child, so once I realized there was a camp so close to my home I went online to learn more about it. I found the job & volunteer opportunities page and contacted Camp Fire Alabama to volunteer my writing skills. While visiting with Sian (Marketing & Communications) I mentioned that I was studying to get my Lifeguard Certification; she encouraged me to apply for a Lifeguard position at the camp.

What previous experiences do you have that you think will make you a great Lifeguard?
I have a huge love of the water which I share with my husband and daughter. I started swimming when I was about the same age as the Navajo tribe (grades 1-3) and have enjoyed playing in pools, lakes and oceans all my life. When my daughter was still a toddler I started teaching her how to swim. I found if she played in the pool for an hour in the evening she used up enough energy to fall asleep quickly at bedtime. When I lived in Saudi Arabia I learned to scuba dive and got to see many amazing and beautiful sites in the Red Sea. Through lifeguard, scuba and other water safety training courses I have learned how to safely enjoy water activities and I look forward to spreading this knowledge to our campers.

What are you most excited about for summer 2015 at Camp Fletcher?
I am looking forward to watching the camper’s skills and confidence grow. In just my first week of guarding I’ve seen campers that were not strong enough to pass the swim test practice and be able to advance to the deep end. I also watched two young campers who had just successfully passed the test proudly show their new friends how to move their arms and kick their feet so they could learn to swim too.

We are so happy to have Ms. Julia with us as a lifeguard. It’s been a great summer so far, and we’re so glad she’s joined the Camp Fletcher family!

Taking Risks at Camp Fletcher

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Swimming, canoeing, shooting a bow and arrow…these are all activities that our campers take part in every single day at Camp Fletcher. Even though our counselors and staff know how to control these situations and safety is always our #1 concern, there are risks that campers must take when they come to camp. We’re learning more and more, however, that taking positive risks can be really good for children, and we’re even finding out that playing outdoors less can be harmful. At Camp Fletcher, we support risk taking, because it allows our campers to discover their world, learn responsibility and experience new things.

This article by the Children & Nature Network does a really great job of explaining why keeping kids inside, away from nature, can do more harm than good. No parent or teacher wants to see kids get hurt, but refusing to let children explore their environment may lead to problems much bigger than a bruise or a scratch. Studies suggest that keeping kids from exploring their environment may cause them to have underdeveloped sensory and balance systems. The author states:

They need to climb, jump, run through the woods, pick up sticks, jump in mud puddles, and fall and get hurt on occasion. These are all natural and necessary experiences that will help develop a healthy sensory system–foundational to learning and accomplishing many of life’s goals.

At Camp Fletcher, we highly value climbing, jumping, and running because we know kids need to play and explore. However, we know all of these activities come with some risk. Our staff and counselors are highly trained and they know how to handle these risks. We’re extremely committed to safety, and we follow a few simple guidelines whenever our campers are engaging in positive risk.

  • We know our campers: Our staff spends a lot of time with our campers, and they’re able to develop an understanding of their fears and concerns. When our counselors tell campers “it’s okay,” it really is okay. They know where your kid is coming from if they’re afraid to participate in the ropes course or shoot a bow and arrow, but they also know that trying new things can be one of the most rewarding experiences a camper will have all summer.
  • We teach kids how to be in control: We give our campers all the instructions and supervision they need when they’re trying something new. We know that new experiences can be scary, so we equip our campers by telling them what to expect. This allows them to be more comfortable and to feel in control of the situation.
  • We teach responsible decision making: When our campers complete a section of the ropes course or hit the bulls-eye in the archery range, we want them to feel a sense of accomplishment in that! Our campers begin to see the consequences of the decisions they make, and this allows them to develop an understanding of responsible decision making. When they work hard and encourage their team, they’ll get the positive results they’re looking for. Teaching kids how to make decisions, especially when it comes to risk taking, is so vital.

Even though risk taking might be new to our campers, we know they will gain so much from it. Increased confidence, improved reasoning and coping skills, and increased strength are just a few of the benefits of taking risks at camp. Safety will always be our #1 concern, but we know that taking risks isn’t inherently bad. When we’re able to teach campers to be in control and make good decisions, we’re giving them skills for the future.