Summer camps give students opportunities to work and learn

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Working as a camp counselor is a popular job for many BYU students and provides an unforgettable summer experience.

Summer camps on campus, including sports and Especially for Youth camps, employ students as counselors to watch over, teach and lead campers.

Matt Babcock plays soccer with his campers.  (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Matt Babcock plays soccer with his campers.
(Photo by Chris Bunker)

One overnight sports camp counselor, Matt Babcock, explained his busy routine, which includes leading his group through various night activities and then getting them up each morning.

Babcock, 22, enjoys working with kids and loves the sports environment but said building relationships with campers is the best part of his job.

“I’m a role model to them by the end of the week. I feel like we become close by the time the week’s over,” Babcock said.

Suzanne Whitehead, 26, worked at EFY camps for three years and loved the experiences she had as a counselor.

“I think seeing that change that just simply believing in someone can have has been the most powerful thing,” Whitehead said.

The role of counselor is demanding and requires individuals to be capable of handling various situations. JD Hucks, director of EFY, explained that administration looks for the very best young single adults, both from BYU and elsewhere, to be counselors.

“Those who are dedicated to the gospel, love working with the youth and can relate to them, those that are great leaders, great examples, great teachers, that are confident in themselves in front of people,” Hucks listed as qualities that make a great counselor. “We want them to have knowledge of the gospel.”

It’s those qualities and many more that allow counselors to give campers the best experience possible. The gospel is an important part of this experience at both sports and EFY camps and requires much work and thought on the counselors’ part.

Babcock prepares nightly devotionals for his group and bases these devotionals on what he learns from interacting with each camper.

“You can kind of tell what the kids might need spiritually or things that might be struggles for them now or in the future,” Babcock said. “I try and help them realize that it’s cool and it’s OK to keep the commandments and do what’s right.”

Whitehead found that she learned a lot during her time as a counselor from both preparing devotionals and attending classes with her group.

“You’re in the lessons as well. It’s for teenagers, but the lessons are applicable to your life as well,” Whitehead said.

This part of the job makes being a camp counselor both a teaching and a learning experience.

It can still be a difficult job for counselors, however, who are required to give much of their time and energy. While Whitehead struggled most with the tiring nature of her job, Babcock’s greatest difficulty occurs when campers misbehave.

“When kids act up — that’s the worst part,” Babcock said.

From an administrative point of view, Hucks finds that some difficulties faced by EFY counselors are simply because of the transitional time they’re at in life.

“(Young single adults) are still trying to figure out what they’re going to do in life and what their next step in life is, too,” Hucks said. “So with that there’s lots of directions and distractions that can come, but those are minor compared to the pros that outweigh minor details.”

The occasional hiccup is expected, but according to Hucks, camps run smoothly and are ultimately successful because of wonderful counselors.

“Our counselors, by far, are the key to the success of what we accomplish at EFY,” Hucks said.

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