Your Role as a Counselor
Is a Counselor More Like a Parent, a Coach, or a Best Friend?[1]
“None of these analogies are perfect because being a camp counselor has its own special characteristics and relationships.  Campers have parents who are raising them according to their beliefs, values and ethics.  While counselors act as surrogates for parents, they do not have the rights and responsibilities of being parents.  Coaches often serve as mentors and guides for children.  Counselors do fill this role, but the relationship between a camper and counselor is more friendly and familiar than that of a coach.  Many counselors want to be their campers’ friends.  While a counselor can have a lot of fun and be enormously helpful to a child, being a best friend is a very different kind of relationship and there are drawbacks to this role.  Counselors must set limits with campers (for their own physical and emotional safety), which a friend would not do.  A counselor should not confide in or share with a camper aspects of his or her personal life.  A counselor should not expect to get advice from or lean on a camper as one might a best friend or engage in certain kinds of activities with a camper that one might with friends.
The best analogy might be that a counselor is like a big brother or sister.  A big brother or sister ...
  • Wouldn’t let a younger sibling do something to hurt him or herself or others.
  • Would intervene when a younger sibling was getting too wound up.
  • Would care for his or her siblings, have fun, and
  • We all know that younger siblings can be curious. An older brother or sister would know this was natural, but would be careful not to share information that was essentially private.”