We often talk about how camp is the place to learn to fail. HOH provides a safety net to try new things and learn how to get up when you fall in the process. That sentiment remains for staff as they learn new skills that will help them navigate whatever field they enter. Communication, after all, is key.
Our staff here at The Heart consists partly of college students and young adults who are working one of their first jobs. That means they are diving into the work world and just learning how important skills like communication are for their success. Communication is valuable in not just how you share ideas, but also simply knowing when to do it.
As a counselor and Heart-LITe, I learned first hand that communication within your team is vital. Being passive aggressive doesn’t fix issues, and attacking doesn’t allow for growth, but if you can find the balance of being open, honest, and kind—you’ve struck gold!
Working closely with your co-counselors creates opportunity to learn to communicate in a productive manner. Things like confronting someone instead of letting an issue snowball, listening openly and always hearing out everyone’s side of the story, and even being able to accept criticism and pick your battles will make you more successful at camp and in the future.
Besides the peer-to-peer communication skills counselors gain, they also sharpen their communication skills toward campers. Learning how to mediate conflict, stay cool under pressure, and approach campers with empathy and patience are things that you can improve with every interaction. As a counselor, you also gain confidence in speaking to groups and giving instruction.
Another valuable communication skills camp teaches is learning when, who, and how to ask for help. At The Heart we don’t expect our staff to know the answer to every problem on their own. That’s why we have support in place to give counselors the tools for success. However, if you don’t ask, you may not receive. Personally, I struggle with asking for help. I don’t want to disappoint, but with more experience, I’ve realized that asking for help usually has the opposite effect. Asking for help shows self awareness and desire to get the job done. At camp that can mean anything from going to Cristi Lee for tips on behavior management strategy to asking your Division Leader for help on writing Parent Reports.
Speaking of which, Parent Reports are detailed letters that counselors write to camper’s families throughout the term. These letters provide a glimpse into the camper’s experience and overall well being. They are also just one more, very practical, way that camp teaches counselors how to communicate. Writing candidly about the daily schedule of your campers can seem daunting to some. But whether it’s a breeze or challenge, counselors learn a lot about communicating, the weird spellings of camp words (“gymkhana”) and the importance of knowing your audience. For example, these reports are the perfect place for counselors to practice constructive communication. The families know their camper’s well, and they want to see that their counselor loves and cares about them! So that means praising campers in their strengths and encouraging improvement in their shortcomings. And still providing details that show their family just how much you care!
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Really the list of communication sharpening blocks found at The Heart could go on, but I believe the best way to find out is to come experience it for yourself! If you’re ready to dive in this summer, apply today or email me at Rachel@HOHcamp.com for more info.