You’ve planned this camp for months. You’ve poured over every last detail, making sure it is a foolproof plan. You’ve got ice-breakers, name games, filler activities, and even music. You have learning objectives and fun objectives and whatever objectives. This will be the Best. Camp. Ever. And then…the parents arrive.
We expect campers to be a little nuts. They’re kids after all, they have energy to burn and ideas of their own. They might not stick to the plan 100% of the time but that’s fine because you? You planned for that! But parents…parents are the bane of any camp counselor’s existence. They love their kids and they want the best for them, which can sometimes come off as more than a little overbearing. “My little Johnny has a delicate constitution and might not be able to handle the stresses of summer camp!” Little Johnny is over there eating dirt, so I think he’s gonna be fine but ooookay, we’ll keep an eye on him. “I know I’ve had 5 months to tell you since camp registration, but my Charles won’t be going on the camping trip with everyone else. He just doesn’t want to!” I’ve already bought food for the entire group and this totally throws off my tent assignments, but sure, whatever Charlie wants. Some folks have seriously busy home lives and may honestly not remember that camp counselors are human too and we need a little parental heads-up now and then. Some folks may honestly not realize just how much planning goes into a summer camp (such planning…much binders…very wow). And some folks may genuinely not care…at least it feels that way.
What do you do with a problem like Maria camp parents? You breathe. You smile. You remember that you’re there to have fun with your campers. And you move on. There will always be a “special” parent. One who demands and demands and thinks their child makes the sun rise. But there will also be parents who are old hands at this camp game. Parents who dunk their kid in a combo of sunscreen and bug spray and kick them out the car door with a loving “Have fun! Don’t die!” Parents who eavesdrop on your “special” ones and roll their eyes when you can’t. Parents who know that you do everything in your power to play with and protect their kids and are grateful for it. Focus on them and focus on the campers. I’m not saying ignore the problematic parents (they don’t like that and they’ll make your life “interesting” if you do) but always remember, you aren’t doing this for them. You’re doing this for the kids. And the paycheck. But mostly the kids…mostly. So slap a smile on your face, go spin through a meadow or two, and get back to having fun!