Having worked with pre-teens (and having been one myself), I can tell you that those teen hormones can be a nightmare at camp! I’m not too sure how the boys fared in their cabins, but the girls were interesting. They are interested in boys, puberty is starting *shudder*, and they have questions they think they can get away with because mom and dad aren’t there to shush them. Well get ready counselors of teens and tweens, you’re in for an adventure.
I’ve been asked just about every question from What’s it like to kiss a boy? to Why do we have periods? to When will I get my boobs? It’s definitely awkward to get these types of questions from your campers but you can avoid the question (which I don’t recommend, it’ll only make them more curious) or you can give some creative alternate answer. For example: the question about kissing. My response was: “Well, I don’t know; boys are kinda gross.” With the internet so absolutely available to everyone, these kids know a lot more than I did at their age. Unfortunately, they are less gullible too; so if you keep giving them these crazy answers they usually stop.
The thing I really don’t like dealing with is definitely camp crushes. In the 8 year olds, it’s kinda cute but you still need to stop the cheek kissing attempts. With the tweens it’s a little different. They have teen hormones raging through their little bodies and it’s terrifying! Every once in a while these little ones have been known to develop little crushes on their counselors and fellow campers. As the guys are sometimes oblivious to it, obvious signs are the kids wanting to hold your hand, getting clingy, or wanting to talk to you ALL OF THE TIME. Yes, I’ve even had boys do the same thing to female counselors. It’s a bit unsettling, actually it’s really unsettling. So really be sure the kids know their boundaries, even if you have to spell it out for them. If you do need to let them know, be sure you pull them aside and have at least one other staff member help you.
So this one is for the girls. Guys you can skip this paragraph or you can read it, it’s up to you. It’s fairly easy when it’s questions about things like shampooing your oily hair or washing your oily face. When it’s things like periods or their bodies it’s a little bit… meh. I had a camper one year who, poor thing, started her very first period at camp. We had to explain that it was just her body growing up and it happens to almost every girl and that she needs to tell her mom privately after camp. After getting over the initial shock of seeing the blood, it was easy, she realized it was just a thing she needed to deal with. Being the prepared counselor I am, I had what she needed but so did the infirmary. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your camper about these things, simply ask your supervisor or whoever is above you in the chain of command to come help. You may even be able to get your camp nurse or med staff to do it.
Here you go boys; girls you can skip this if you want. I have three younger brothers, two of them are on the autism spectrum so you kinda have to help them out so I have an idea of what you might be dealing with. Sometimes, or usually, the hormones hit the boys a little harder than the girls. You should know exactly what I’m talking about. “Urges”. I know a counselor who had a problem with a camper trying to… well… suppress his in the bathrooms. It could happen, just know: It’s not a big deal. Let them know it’s great they did it in private, but it’s not entirely appropriate for camp. Less awkward things you may have to deal with are body odor. Please let your camper know if they need to apply more deodorant but don’t go crazy with the Axe spray!
I know the topics I covered here are a little taboo and weird to even think about, but think back to when you were 11. You’d probably appreciate the help. Being a counselor is being a good role model which means demonstrating good hygiene. You don’t need to put on deodorant in front of them or make them watch you clean your ears, but be sure you show something. Brush your teeth with them, show them how to floss, routinely wash your face at the next sink over. They are watching you and they will catch on. At least if they’re going to copy you, make it a good habit to copy. At Camp Spike N Wave they play a morning radio show hosted by some of the assistant directors. They would play fun dancing music over the intercoms to wake everyone up. My girls loved to dance and be crazy with us. Seriously, have you ever tried to do the Macarena while brushing your teeth? The Wobble while washing your face? Or even the Cupid Shuffle while brushing your hair?! It is pretty entertaining and it gets the kids up and ready for the day! So be a good counselor and take care of your kiddos!
Stay Campy my friends!
By the way, 13 days 19 hours 24 minutes until I fly to Seattle!