My first summer at Chosatonga I was a Junior Counselor (JC) “Dad”. Much like the JC’s entering the program, I didn’t know exactly what all that entailed. I knew being a JC Dad had something to do with leadership, came with a few added responsibilities and extra privileges, and most of all came with the opportunity for challenge and reward in a way that is different than the rest of the CKC experience.
The Junior Counselor Program starts off with a bang. While the rest of Camp heads out for their first cabin overnight of the year, the JCs head out on a multi day retreat. This adventure is filled with demanding hiking, stunning backcountry views, and a deep dive on the values of Kahdalea and Chosatonga: Welcome Adventure, Be the One, We are a Family, Choose the Hard Right and Encounter Faith. The route and talks might vary a bit year to year, but the idea stays the same. We encourage the JCs to step out of their comfort zone and live out these values in their everyday lives starting right here, right now. After a day of challenging terrain and growing closer to one another, deep and fruitful conversations flow naturally while being surrounded by God’s beauty. There’s something about hardship, whether struggling up a mountain or having a difficult conversation, that forms bonds unlike anything else. This retreat helps set up the JCs for their coming session so they grow closer together and help us share the mission of camp with the younger campers they encounter.
Once back at Camp, JCs start their journey as the leaders of the camp community. While still having the perks of being a camper through trips of their choice, camp wide games, cabin life, and so much more, they also have the ability and privilege to help spread and reinforce the values that give CKC it’s identity. JCs may spend time with a cabin if a co-counselor is gone on a trip, or take the time to stop and talk to younger campers if they see someone is homesick or even just sing a little louder in the dining hall to help build enthusiasm. These seemingly little things go a long way because so many campers are watching how their older peers use their role as leaders.
Another big responsibility of the Junior Counselors is their work in the kitchen. All Junior Counselors work at least two meal shifts a week. Here they help our kitchen staff with prepping and cleaning up after meals. While outside of most people’s usual wheelhouse, this work teaches work ethic, communication, timeliness, responsibility and teamwork.
A few of the privileges that come with JC life include receiving a third off the cost of tuition, one special “night out” per session, going on the JC retreat, writing a letter to your future-self, coffee, keeping special food and snacks with a private locker, later lights out, assisting in two camp activities, the freedom to stay up and hang out or play games with counselors, and the privilege of being a role model for younger campers.
As a JC, you are being given the chance to step outside of yourself and serve others. While this might sound like a bit of a chore, it’s ironically how our cups are filled. As counselors, our staff chooses daily the needs and wants of their campers by putting aside their own desires and feelings. Being a JC is taking a step into this role, while still having all the perks of being a camper. Being a JC you are choosing the mission of Camp more intentionally and sharing that with others. We are so excited to have you as a JC and can’t wait for you to be a larger part of our camp family!