Real Skills for your Resume: Critical Thinking

Being a camp counselor means being superwoman. For the months of June and July you transform into a confidant, nurse, care-taker, mediator, entertainer, teacher, and role model. One minute you’re explaining the rules to Slide Ball (Kick Ball but with more soap and water) and the next you’re marching campers to cover as rain pours from the sky. Every summer, camp keeps my critical thinking skills sharp. That’s because at camp, we solve problems ourselves, and boy are there a lot of problems to solve!

If there is a problem…

Critical thinking involves analyzing a problem and logically finding a solution—that’s right, problem-solving. At camp counselors deal with a million problems a day. At meal times a camper refuses to try beans. During hiking class a camper shows up in flip flops. After taps your kids refuse to sleep. These are all just daily trials of a counselor. 

critical thinking
One of the best critically-thinking-problem-solver’s, Meredith! This summer she graced us with her presence at camp and did about fifty different jobs. Plus, if you can’t tell from the photo, she is always ready to solve a problem before it becomes a CATastrophe.

…yo, I’ll solve it!

But that’s where the critical thinking comes into play. I remember countless Just For Fun classes when I watched my campers get tired of friendship bracelet making and had to come up with something more creative on the spot. I put in place a system of getting every camper’s request for an activity they wanted to do in the class and used those ideas to make my lesson plans for the term. That way the kids were involved and I wasn’t stumbling to think of another game every ten minutes. That kind of problem solving took trial and error. Recognizing that the current plan didn’t work and developing a new one. As a counselor, these little moments happen in big and small ways.

As a counselor you learn to be chief problem-solving officer (CPO if you will). Your responsibilities include noticing that you can tempt a camper to try beans if you try them first and praise the taste. Discovering the handiness of backpacks filled with boots, tennis shoes, and flip-flops for the forgetful Sophomore. Starting to read aloud to your campers to help them wind down. And in those big moments like helping a camper write home to combat home-sickness or singing camp songs with your kids to keep them calm in that one crazy tornado warning we experienced in 2019, you work-out those critical thinking skills everyday.

Flexibility without Toe-Touches

I always cite flexibility as being the most important trait of a counselor. That’s because a flexible counselor is one who has their critical thinking skills at the ready. Whether it’s a change that comes from unexpected weather, an order from my programming whims, or simply noticing what they’re doing isn’t working, flexible counselors are ready to switch gears and provide solutions. 

On your Resume

And this problem-solving fueled by critical thinking won’t just help you at camp. In any workplace and in school, using critical thinking to observe, formulate, and put in place solutions will bring you success. Employers notice who is self-reliant and overcoming obstacles. That doesn’t mean never asking for help, but as an employee the more you solve on your own the more trust you gain from others, so when you do need help they’ll be more than ready to give it. It’s a bit like the boy (or gal) who cried wolf—don’t ask for solutions for things you can figure out on your own!

Critical thinking is just one more skill camp can add to your resume. Come challenge your problem-solving and grow this summer while making a difference. Apply today at or email me for more info at You can make a positive change in your life and someone else’s, so do everyone a favor and work at Heart O’ the Hills this summer. <3 Rachel

About the Author

Rachel Pannell

Rachel is a rare fourth generation Heart girl. Her great-grandmother was the nurse for our first summer as Heart O’ the Hills Camp, and her grandmother and great aunt were campers, as were her mother and aunt. This fall she will be at UTSA as a marketing major. Rachel is a Jo Jones girl.

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