Camp counselors carry with them a lot of responsibility including organizing events, making sure everyone is safe and, of course, ensuring every camper has a memorable and fun time. This can be a bit difficult when it comes to campers who are more reserved, introverted or are nervous about the whole camp experience. However, there are ways to reach them and make a difference! Here are 5 ways camp counselors can help those shy campers come out of their shells and enjoy the full experiences that time away at camp has to offer.
Make a Connection & Build Trust
Perhaps the first step in reaching out to a withdrawn camper is to make a connection and build trust yourself with them. There are a few ways to begin making that bond even on the first day:
- Asking lots of questions & finding out their passions
- Praise them
- Share your own interests & camp experiences
Once that trust has been established, treat it with kindness, caring and importance. A shy camper can revert back into their shell much quicker than it took to bring them out of it. However, if you continue to respect that connection with each camper, the trust will only continue to grow!
Introduce Them to Other Like-Minded Campers
The prime goal is to make them feel comfortable enough to express themselves, and to relax and enjoy the camp atmosphere to the fullest! One of the best ways to do this is to integrate them into the mix. This is your time to be a leader! Once you’ve talked to more campers, introduce the shy kids to other campers they may have something in common with or you think they would get along with. This could include similar hobbies, where they live, age or even introduce them to other campers you know will be friendly and help them adjust.
Try looking for opportunities to include introverted campers in different activities, such as:
- At a meal, bring them over to a table you know they will get along with
- Organize an event that will make it easy for campers to get to know each other
- Start up a game of catch with them, then call other campers into the game
Tap Into Their Strengths & Showcase Them
It is widely thought that no one is ever 100% introverted. Where there is an introvert, there is an extrovert side waiting to spread their wings. As a camp counselor you have the power to tap into that side and show them what they can achieve!
First, find out what the camper is really good at. Pay attention to how they do in their activities to see where their strengths lie. Do they excel at writing? Have them write a skit for campfire. Are they good at sports? Steer them towards joining in on a game of basketball or baseball. When they feel proud of themselves they will really shine!
Build up Their Confidence
Being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean that they lack confidence in themselves but, just in case self-esteem is an underlying issue, it never hurts to continue to build on their confidence level and give them a little bit of a boost. Try giving them a responsibility. This may work well with younger campers, especially if they’re helping out the older campers, or even the counselors.
Giving campers a boost at the beginning to get them started is only half the adventure of camp counselors. The other half is to continue to be there for them, to monitor their engagement and to be available if problems do come up. Let them know you’ll always be available to chat or if they need a shoulder to lean on. And when those campers do come to you and open up, offer your ears and heart completely and really try to understand what they have to say. Not just listen, but take time to truly appreciate them on an individual basis. Be the mentor they need. You could be the camp counselor in that child’s life that could really make a difference! Isn’t that what being a counselor is all about?
Research from the University of Waterloo found that new campers show a high rate of development when it comes to social interactions at camp. It’s up to you as an amazing counselor, mentor and friend to assist in that development and offer the support a shy or new camper needs in order to experience how truly amazing time camp really is!
Looking for more camp counselor resources or that great next staff position? Get in touch today.