Our first group of 2016 Junior Counselors (JCs) is completing their final week of their month here with us at GAC. They have been a tremendously positive influence on the camp community, and we are going to miss them when they leave us on Saturday. Last summer (2015) was our first year of our new Junior Counselor program, which replaced the two-week CIT (Counselor in Training) program of previous years. We are thrilled with the training and positive impact our Junior Counselors are having here at GAC.
Our Junior Counselors are being led this summer by enthusiastic, long-time GAC staffers Cappy, Orange, and Moo.
Cappy, who is celebrating her sixth summer at GAC and who works for camp year-round hiring our summer staff, says, “GAC is constantly refining me to be my best self. GAC empowers campers and staff to unplug, enjoy time in the outdoors, create connections, and lean into challenges that create life-changing experiences. Campers and counselors leave more confident, self aware, and open to others, which allows them to create positive social change in home communities. Walking alongside campers for two weeks is such a fun adventure, and every summer I have fun, make friends, and grow!”
Orange is here at GAC for his seventh summer. In past summers, Orange has been a Group Counselor, a Rocks & Ropes Activity Counselor, and a Lead Counselor. Orange’s favorite thing about camp is “seeing kids grow, especially these four weeks, seeing these kids grow into their roles.” What Orange loves is seeing the potential in campers and then watching as they reach their potential. Orange is enjoying working with the Junior Counselors, and is feeling like after having this month with the group, he is really going to miss them. He feels like he has a deeper connection because of spending this month together.
Moo has been at GAC for three summers. Previously, she worked with older girls as a Group Counselor. What Moo especially likes about working at camp is “inspiring others and watching kids challenge themselves.” She recently graduated from the University of Redlands with a degree in film and creative writing. Moo’s favorite camp activity is sailing. About the JC program, Moo says she really enjoys watching them “transition into the counselor role.” She has really enjoyed this group of JCs and says, “They’re a really good group. Really fun!”
For the first two weeks of the program, JCs went on a two-night backpacking trip and participated in many of the trainings we do with our counselors before camp begins, including sessions on communicating with children, using positive group management, and keeping campers safe.
Over their month here at camp, JCs worked towards becoming certified lifeguards, did community service work at a Fresno Women and Children’s shelter, and set up for and led events, including Big Campfire, the carnival, the dance, and the banquet.
At the conclusion of Session 1, we recognized the JCs for all of their hard work earning certifications and learning the skills they need to be successful counselors. At Appreciation Campfire, the JCs were given their official JC shirts (a light green polo shirt) and name badges with their new camp nicknames!
As Session 2 began, our JCs moved into tents with our younger campers and jumped headfirst into providing additional leadership, supervision, and assistance for the counseling staff in their cabins. From the campers’ perspective, our JCs seem like another counselor, as they have the skills, personalities, and camp experience to help provide great experiences for our campers. From our perspective, we know that we have some well-trained future camp counselors who will be joining our staff full time in two or three years (JCs are going into 11th or 12th grade and will be eligible to apply for counseling positions after their freshman year of college).
We look forward to welcoming our next group of Junior Counselors on Sunday!
Here are some pictures of our Junior Counselors in action: