Mental Health for Staff at Camp

April 28th, 2020

Mental Health for Staff at Camp

We have already discussed how to keep physically healthy at camp, but what about your mental health? Keeping an eye on and prioritizing your mental health while employed as a youth development professional is key for being the best you can be for the young people you are working with. Check out this amazing podcast from world-renowned psychologist Dr Gilboa, specifically catered towards camp counselors and mental health.

Our key takeaways?

  1. As a counselor you notice and are invested in your camper's emotions. Happiness, nervousness, sadness etc and will spend a majority of your time trying to help others feel better and better. It can be wonderful but also overwhelming and exhausting. 

  2. Parents and campers are watching how you take care of yourself. Do you get enough sleep? Drink enough water? Eat to fuel your body? Role modeling this, for the campers can teach them a skill of self-care for life.

  3. Camp is a great place to practice self-care without technology.

  4. Staff should have a list of health self care practices and determine which ones they can do in different situations at camp. AKA 5 minutes in the cabin vs 1 hour in the woods.

  5. Self care on time off is whatever you can do to help yourself feel full and nourished for going back to work.

  6. You don’t get much time off at camp-be really choosy and possessive over how you spend your time and with who.

  7. Most camp counselors have an abundance of empathy, which is such an amazing, giving trait. But you need to make sure your empathy is mixed with a little bit of Teflon. Teflon being that stuff that's on cooking pans, that doesn't allow stuff to stick and burn on. If you don't mix your empathy with a little bit of that Teflon, then every difficulty that you helped someone else with can stick to you a little bit and drag your mental health down. 

  8. Remember that listening to someone tell you about what is making them feel embarrassed, ashamed, hurt, angry, frustrated, sad. You can do that and help them without also feeling that kind of embarrassed, hurt, frustrated or sad or angry emotions with them.

  9. Make sure you know who your go-to person that can actually make a change that is frustrating you- because if you're just complaining to someone that's not solving your problem, you're just hijacking someone else and offloading your problems onto them. (At CCB the people to go to at CCB are Kylie or Alfred)

  10.  If you are not in the right mental headspace and someone needs to talk to you, it is OK to have someone in a more senior role come and have that conversation/offer support

  11. Don’t be a martyr. Don't take pride in how tired you are. We're all tired, we're all dirty, we're all sweaty. It's not a competition.

  12. Turn on an app to track how much time you are using your phone. You can then start to slowly and intentionally reduce the amount of time spent on your phone to help with the transition at camp

What takeaways do you have from the podcast? We suggest staff write down their main points and takeaways and look over them on a regular basis this summer to keep balanced and mentally healthy.

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