4-H Camp Counselors gain leadership skills

Michigan State University Extension provides camp counseling opportunities for youth in Northeast Michigan.

4-H Summer Camp for Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Otsego and Presque Isle counties was held June 25-28, 2012 at the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center in Presque Isle County. Sixty youth, age nine to 12, attended the camp. They enjoyed three days of a “Go Green” themed camp. Michigan 4-H adult volunteers, 4-H county staff and 4-H teen counselors staffed the camp. The purpose of the camp was to give students a camping experience, a chance to make new friends and to increase their appreciation of science based fields of work. Additionally, the camp provides a great leadership experience for counselors.

Every summer, thousands of young people across the country participate in 4-H summer residential camping programs intended to introduce appreciation of natural resources and to promote life skills development. These campers, like those in Northeast Michigan, are often supervised by trained, high-school aged counselors.

These counselors gain valuable knowledge and life skills in their role at camp. One article on the long-term benefits of being a camp counselor highlights four areas.

Counselors:

  • Gain experience working with kids. Even if counselors aren’t an education, psychology or social sciences major as many camp counselors are, working with kids provides counselors with opportunities to be empathetic, problem-solve, be creative and silly, and learn new ways to relate to others.
  • Gain leadership experience. Campers think the world or their counselors. They write songs to their counselors and imitate them. As a counselor they get to feel the responsibility for actions on others.
  • Experience truly putting others first. This probably doesn’t sound like a long-term benefit at first – but consider that many counselors will become parents! The communal nature of camp life often requires counselors to put the group’s needs ahead of their own.
  • Gain independence by making new friends and being in a new environment.

Michigan State University Extension’s Community Engagement and Leadership Development team offers Leadership Programs for both new and experienced youth and adult leaders who would like to develop or improve their leadership skills.

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