Things to Know to Become a Rock Star Camp Counselor – by Mike Arrington


Manassas Park Community Center Athletics Specialist Mike ArringtonSummer camps are just around the corner. Here in the Athletics Division, we are preparing behind the scenes to put on a great summer camp season. The motto we are abiding by this year is to Revamp – Camp. We are grateful for all the lessons, kids, and staff we have had in the past that have prepared us for our future.  I have blogged before on what it’s like to be a camp counselor (here at the Community Center, we call them summer camp leaders, or aides). While it may not be the most glamorous job, it certainly is a filling and rewarding one. One where you can influence kids on a daily basis. One that thrusts you into the role of mentor, teacher, therapist, judge, doctor, and most importantly – friend.

I have been involved in camps for over 20 years in different capacities, from aide/leader to instructor, and now a facilitator. I believe the most effective camp counselors are those who take the time to learn and master their craft and apply each lesson learned appropriately.  I read a statement about good camp counselors and it could not be truer. It read, “Talking about the counselor who can entertain a child for 8 to 24 hours straight, tend to an injury without panic, or calm an out-of-control camper like its second nature.  We all know them; they shine at one of the hardest jobs in the world!”

I thought to myself that those Rock Star counselors had to go through the growing pains that is summer camp in order to understand it.  They had to experience the highs and lows of camp in order to know how to deal with it for the next time. What better way to prepare counselors for the camp experience than to give them some things to know.  I came across the perfect checklist for both newcomers and veterans as they prepare for the camp season.

Finally, our summer staff goes through a very intensive and action-packed training week. We strive to provide them with the necessary tools to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. We emphasize many of the points on this checklist and it applies to both rookies and veterans alike. Therefore, if you want to make a difference in little camper’s lives, then the Manassas Park Community Center is the place to be. Exercising this list in your daily camp work will result in a happy environment for both you and your campers. The rewards you reap will be plentiful and well worth your effort, and you will be on your way to becoming Rock Star Camp Counselors. If you have any questions about the list, please feel free to contact me.

Mike Arrington is the Recreation Specialist for Athletics for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at (703) 335-8872 or via email at

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