Take part in the greatest camp tradition: returning to FCC as a staff member to “pass it on!”
The exclusive Challenge Coins shown in this video are given only to counselors who were former campers. They’re a small way to recognize the commitment of former campers, returning to “pass it on” as staff.
The exclusive Challenge Coins shown in the video above are given only to counselors who were former campers. They’re a small way to recognize the commitment of former campers, who return to “pass it on” as staff.
What’s it like returning as a counselor?
Are you looking for a meaningful summer job, or a way to gain experience that will set you apart in your future career?
Read on to hear from other former campers about what their first year on staff was like - in their own words. Why did they return? What was the most rewarding part? Would they recommend this job?
“Coming from Florida, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to be up in the mountains. Something about the community here just really stood out to me as a camper, as well as just the incredible activities. I grew a lot from my time here growing up, and in my faith as well. I had a really good engineering internship last summer that was career-focused, but I thought about it and prayed about it and realized, this has to be it - being there for the campers, showing them what a mentor is like, having fun in the outdoors - that’s huge for me and that’s why I found my way back here on staff. The main fault of a lot of engineers and just people in general is not being able to communicate. Here you have to communicate every day - with your campers, to your linehead, to directors - it’s a lot of communication skill building that I’ll keep using in my future career.
Being back here this summer was so nostalgic, seeing everything and realizing nothing has changed, and just getting to enjoy that. It’s been different - you definitely have more responsibilities as a counselor and you have to take it more seriously - but really the best part of camp is the relationships, it’s not just a job. If you love camp, that’s awesome. But if you come back as a counselor you’ve got to care about the kids, because it’s not about your experience anymore, it’s about their experience as a camper. If you have the heart and commitment to serve these kids and do everything you can to make sure they have fun, then absolutely I would recommend this job - it’s a phenomenal experience. You can have a huge impact on these guys. As a camper I spent only three weeks of the summer with my counselors, and I still think about them all the time. It’s just one of those things where you really get to be a role model, and it’s awesome.”
“I had a great experience as a camper - I tried new things every year, made new friends, and just had an overall good time. I wanted to come back as a counselor because I felt like it would just be a great experience. Also, I got a lot out of this camp, and I just wanted to give back and give the future campers the same experience that I was lucky enough to receive as a camper.
You learn more in the first week of actually being a counselor than any amount of time in staff orientation could prepare you, but leadership is probably one of the biggest skills you learn here as a counselor. You have to be able to lead a whole cabin of 8 people, but also teach all different ages in your activity. I loved being in Cabin 3. I would highly recommend working at camp - I just think it’s really rewarding. If you’ve come here and gotten a lot out of it, it just feels really good to come back and give the upcoming campers a great experience like the one that you got.”
Mark Van Kirk
“The counselors made camp incredible for me as a camper, so I wanted to step into their shoes and see what being a counselor was all about. I also missed the touch of nature at camp and the sense of adventure, which contributed to my return. It was a great transition from camper to counselor, though a little different than I was expecting. As a camper, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what being a counselor is like, but those conceptions changed after actually being a counselor. It requires you to resemble the Falling Creek Code day in and day out, but you become a stronger person and form lasting friendships along the way - and it’s a whole lot of fun!
Being a counselor has taught me more about being a leader than anything else. Every part of the job calls you to improve yourself for the sake of others. I especially learned how to be patient. I was an instructor for fly fishing, so I had to accept that the fish weren’t going to be biting every day. And more generally, I became more comfortable with things going differently than I had planned. It was a good lesson to learn. The most rewarding part for me was to see the smiles on campers’ faces as they try or accomplish something new. I got to witness my experience as a camper from a different angle, which was very cool.”
“Back in February, my mom kind of reminded me how much fun I had at camp. It felt like so long ago, and I didn’t really think about my time at camp until I was looking at the website. But once I had my phone call with Ben and Yates I started just remembering how much fun I had. I thought a lot about the counselors I had as a camper - especially the paddling counselors that I still think about today. They made a big impact on my life, and I want to make a big impact on others’ lives.
As a counselor I learned how to teach to a big group, and how to manage and teach to all skill levels. Also logistical planning for trips, where I’m not just planning for myself but also for the 12 or so campers who are going. The most rewarding part is seeing kids in stages that I was at when I was a camper. Especially kayaking, it’s like seeing my memories from when I was a camper play out before me. I had so much fun when I was a camper, so I just know for a fact that they’re having fun and they’re happy. Tell my mom I said thank you for telling me I should get this job!”
“Camp was really formative for me in the early years, because it was like a magical place where I could try out whatever I wanted to. I had an amazing support system with the staff who were there year after year - I learned so many new things, struggled, succeeded, and had a lot of experiences that I’m so grateful for.
I was looking for an experience after my freshman year of college, and I really wanted to pursue something I enjoyed before going to career internships and stuff. I wanted an experience outside the cubicle and desk office, so I decided to come back - I’m really glad I did. It’s been a challenging transition to counselor because of all the responsibilities I have now which I didn’t have as a camper, but I’ve changed my mindset. At camp I’m not only responsible for myself now, but also for all my campers - It’s not only about my experience anymore, but about improving the experiences of the campers that I’m taking care of, and I’m definitely seeing the rewards. When I get letters from parents or campers reaching out after the session, I just feel so lucky to have been a part of these kids’ lives.
Finding a routine and balancing my schedule have been good life skills to learn. At camp I’m responsible for keeping up with the schedule (if I don’t wake up and start getting ready for the day then my kids won’t either), and that’s really important for the work world too with schedules and deadlines. Being a camp counselor is hard work - If you’re considering it, know that it’s gonna be challenging, and you’re gonna be tired at times, but also you’re going to love it because it’s so rewarding. Every day I found something else to be grateful for working here.”
“Being a counselor here was something I always wanted to do, especially after my freshman year of college. I kind of had it in my mind since high school that I wanted to come back after freshman year, because I had a great time as a camper and I wanted to give back to the community. It’s been really cool being able to be back and work with my brother John. We’ve always been close, but this is the first time being on the same team as each other since he’s a little bit older than me.
The most rewarding part was just getting to be like the counselors that I always remember seeing when I was a camper. I think back to my favorite counselors and how good of a job they did and try to give a similar energy to my campers. If you’re thinking about working here, do it. It’s a really fun, really rewarding experience, and I think it’s an important experience.”
“When I was looking at my different options for this summer, I knew I wanted to come back because I had so much fun as a camper, and I wanted to give back to the place that gave me so much. I thought that the skills I would build here through working with all the kids and leading an activity would help throughout my future internships and jobs. I’ve learned a lot by running the swim docks this past summer - managing a team of peers, problem solving, and multitasking are all skills that have been really good to build.
If you’re thinking about working at camp, do it. I’ve made great friendships here, and never before have I been in a position where I’m working with people I respect as much as I do here. I think that has so much to do with the fact that the people who come and work here do it because they want to, not for any other motive. I’ve just had a blast.
The most rewarding part is probably seeing the boys’ faces when they get to go on that trip they’ve been wanting to go on, or when they make that progression they wanted to make, or seeing the time and energy that they put into a project and watching them complete it - that’s been really cool to see. The fun really doesn’t stop once you’re done being a camper.”
“I wanted to come back to camp as a counselor because Falling Creek is my summer home and that is never going to change! During my time as a camper, my counselors went to great lengths to make my camp experience what it was. They obviously cared about me deeply. I felt compelled to try and create the same memorable summer for a bunch of young guys.
What I liked most about teaching tennis was being able to contribute to a longstanding FCC tradition of excellent tennis! I loved seeing the signs hanging in the Tennis Hut listing the tennis staff from each summer, dating all the way back to the 80s. Falling Creek always has its share of talented tennis players, and the camper-counselor tournament is a famous tradition. Being around all of that camp history and being able to contribute to a core camp activity was a blast. I also was able to better myself significantly as a player by the end of the summer.
To former campers considering returning as staff, I would encourage you to think about the joy you experienced as a young man on the mountain as a camper. For many campers, summers at FCC are some of their most cherished memories. Making that a continued reality for hundreds of more boys is an important and worthwhile task. Creating a fun, safe, Christian, adventurous environment is very rewarding - and you will benefit from that environment as a counselor too!”
“Coming back as a counselor was something I’ve always wanted to do. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do this past summer, and when I saw my friends were coming back it really made me want to make the jump to come back. The most rewarding part was probably when I had kids in my cabin who wanted to come paddling for the first time, and I was able to get them out on the river and see them progress.
Keep in touch with your camp friends, because that’s really what makes camp what it is. Camp is a place that you just can’t get back home. Working here is kind of like your last chance to get a grasp of it before you have to settle down into some kind of internship or office job.
I gained more leadership and communication skills for sure. One of the main things I wanted to learn this summer was conversation skills, so things like Evening Embers and things like that have really helped me develop questions to ask and just helped me with how to communicate in general. I definitely got a lot more out of this job than I thought I would in the beginning. The transition from camper to counselor wasn’t hard at all - I still like to think of myself as a camper and just go out there and have fun, just with more responsibility than you used to. It’s been great.”
“I wanted to come back because as a camper, counselors were like my idols - they were bigger than life. Becoming a counselor was basically a childhood dream to fulfill, so I knew I had to come back at least once to make the younger me feel accomplished. The transition from camper to counselor hasn’t been too weird because I had a year of DASH too, but it just feels like I’m a camper except that I have more responsibilities. It’s still fun. I would recommend working here. I’ve definitely learned more about how to be patient but also firm too.
It’s really cool coming back as a former camper - getting to go around camp and see my old cabin signs, walking around and just thinking ‘I grew up here.’ I’ve liked getting to revisit certain places and childhood memories I’ve made, but just as an adult now.”
“The reason I came back to Falling creek was 100% remembering the times I had there as a camper, and realizing that I could now give back to that community was an easy choice for me as a summer job. I would say the most rewarding part of being a counselor is watching yourself have an influence on the kids at camp, and interacting with them. Whether its teaching them a skill and watching them apply it later in the session, or getting them hyped up for all camp activities, or especially those late night porch conversations. Each moment you have with them not only teaches them something, but teaches you as well.
What I enjoyed most about the activity I taught was for sure watching the kids have fun, but also get competitive. Personally, I love competition so adding into the mix a side bet for a possible extra dessert and cookie was always fun with the kids. And lastly, what I would say to a former camper thinking about becoming staff? Do it. 1000%. The memories you make there, not just with the kids, but also the staff will absolutely be worth it. You’ll make awesome connections, and have an incredible experience.”