Why You Should Be A Camp Counselor

Posted by on May 27, 2015

Many children who have spent a summer at camp must make that crucial decision in their life when they are finally able to work, “Should I become a camp counselor or should I find a ‘real’ job?” The answer is simple, you should become a camp counselor! Now being a camp counselor is not only for those who have attended camp. In fact, being a counselor is something everyone should experience because it provides you with as much a positive impact as it does being a camper. Being a counselor can teach you valuable life skills that can help you in many aspects of life. While working at camp you can learn: Time Management A large part of being a counselor is time management. You learn how long activities take to set up and break down and how long it takes for your group to get ready and walk from area A to area B. You can maximize your activity time by learning these things and working around them. With the long work hours camp brings, you also learn to maximize your time off! You can take these skills and apply them to later on in life, whether it is managing time in school or managing your time in your personal life. Communication Skills Your communication skills will strengthen throughout just one summer at camp. With your camper and counselor group, you will need to actively listen to others. You also learn how to respond to others after realizing the effects your words can have on campers. You can take these communication skills with you throughout life! Multitasking Any counselor will tell you that at one point or another it seems like all chaos has broken loose and that there are a million things going on and all of them need to be handled. You learn how to handle high stress situations like this! You also learn multitasking on a simpler level with situations every day. For example, as you’re setting up an activity, you’re also answering a question a camper just asked you, meanwhile you are simultaneously doing a head count. These multitasking skills can be taken back to school or your career! Conflict Management At some point during your counseling career, you will need to solve a dispute. Maybe it is something that happened with another counselor or maybe two campers started arguing with one another about who hit who in dodgeball. Either way, it is a situation you have to step into and resolve. Most likely utilizing the communication skills mentioned above, you end up finding a solution. Conflict management is a valuable skill to learn, not only to resolve the conflicts we face in our own lives, but to help others resolve their conflicts both in and out of the workplace. The skills listed above are far and few of all the skills that are learned...

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Unplug & Connect

Posted by on May 20, 2015

Have you ever been out with a group of friends or at a family dinner and noticed that everyone was on their cellphones at the same time? A study has revealed that children, ages 8 through 18, spend upwards of 7.5 hours staring at some form of technology. With televisions, video games, laptops, smart phones, and tablets; access to technology and information has increased greatly over the past decade. With the push of a button or the touch of a screen, one can now access a near infinite amount of information and entertainment. However, as on-screen communication increases, studies have also shown that off-screen communication decreases. Here at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc., we believe in unplugging from technology and connecting with one another. In order to do this, we ask that all campers leave their electronics at home. This means no cellphones for emailing, calling, texting or internet access for social media. While this may seem daunting at first, we have campers interact with one another through all of the activities we offer here. With activities such as land sports, arts and crafts, archery, swimming, boating, nature and the challenge course, campers can develop teamwork and leadership skills. Our campers can learn how to actively communicate with one another and create long lasting friendships! Through our Pony Express system, campers can write letters to other campers and counselors and develop writing and communication skills. Campers can even write letters to be mailed home which will mean more than any 10 second text sent home! Through our camp, children can learn valuable life skills such as perseverance and independence. They can learn the four core values: honesty, caring, respect, and responsibility and can gain the confidence they need to become future leaders. These lessons can stick with a camper throughout their life and will leave more of an impact than any “liked” Facebook post or “favorited” Tweet. Register for camp this summer today at...

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Our Board President

Posted by on May 13, 2015

My name is Dave Herron and I have now been a board member for longer than I was a camper. But both experiences have helped to shape me personally and professionally.  As a camper in the late 60s, things were much different in many respects than they are today. For example, I had no concerns about being at camp for two weeks without my cell phone or iPad. But many things about camp were the same then as they are now. I was away from home and away from all my ‘regular’ friends. I always had mixed emotions going away to camp; feeling excited and feeling anxious at the same time. As I returned to camp, year after year, there was the excitement of knowing what was to come; new friends to be made and old friends to see once again. My day was broken up into four periods with each activity scheduled for me except for the occasional free periods that would usually find me at the rifle range. There was no girl’s camp until the last year that I went to camp. But by the time the girls camp came into being I was of that age that even that was an okay addition to camp. Having been a board member for a number of years now I can see some similarities to my camp experience. At camp we learned to get along and to work together as a team. On the board of directors, team work is essential to making important decisions. There were challenges as a camper such as learning to dive in the lake or ride a horse for the first time.  Of course there are challenges that board members face as well.  Nothing as scary as being a little kid riding a horse for the first time, but the camp experience built confidence and that confidence has translated into serving as a contributor and a leader on the board. But the best thing about having been a camper and now being on the board is that now I have a unique perspective and I know firsthand what it means to be a young boy with the opportunity to go to camp and that perspective factors into every decision I make as a board...

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Our Camp Directors

Posted by on May 6, 2015

My name is Brent Birchler and I am the Boys Overnight Camp Director at YMCA Camp Ockanickon.  I first came to camp in the early 1980’s as a member at the Family Swim Center.  My parents would take me swimming, boating, and fishing during the summer months.  After a few years as a member, I had my first overnight camp experience at the annual Kids Convention, a program Ockanickon used to run during Teacher Conventions in November.  From then on, I was hooked on camp!  I made a lot of friends each time I came to camp and really looked up to my counselors.  They were my heroes!  While my school friends wanted to be firemen, police officers, or soldiers when they grew up, I wanted to be a combination of Billy Weeks, Rick Feighery, Robbie Elder, Mickey Weeks, Ian Scott, Bobby Sempsey, Chris Morris, and Rick Worrell.  These guys made me feel important.  They were excited when I arrived at camp and made me feel like I was really a part of Ockanickon.  They taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow.  They taught me how to canoe and backpack.  They taught me that being out in the woods was infinitely more fun than being surrounded by walls and ceilings.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but they also taught me how to settle an argument, bounce back from disappointment, stand up for what I believed in, and how to do the right thing even when it was hard and uncomfortable.  They helped my parents teach me how to be a man.  For that, I am eternally grateful.  They didn’t teach me these things by being authoritative.  They taught me these things by being my friends and holding me accountable for my decisions and behavior.  That’s what good mentors do.  I remember letting them down more than once, but seeing their disappointment in my choices would really motivate me not to make that mistake again.  These were invaluable life lessons for me. Then came that magical day in 1994 that I was hired as an Assistant Counselor.  My first day of staff training was probably one of the top five happiest days of my life! I made a host of new friends on staff such as Mikey Sunshine, Eric Altenburger, Andrew Pinger, Jeff Basiaga, and the legendary Spiffy Joe Bertolino.  My two best friends, Mike Maron and Keith Controvich, also became staff members around the same time as me.  I was in Heaven!  I had my dream job and looked forward to working at camp through college until it was time to get a “real job”.  Well, college came and went and I got to work with some amazing campers and counselors during my summers at Ockanickon.  After I graduated, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do so I decided to work at...

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