Your Parenting Info Sign Up

From Camper to Counselor

by Ronald A. Rowe | May 1st, 2014 | Social, Tweens

children-14067_640A funny thing happens sometimes in the space between annual events.  The kids who attended last year’s Vacation Bible School, Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Camp, what have you, may be this year’s assistant teacher, egg wrangler, or counselor.  That one 12-month period — usually around the 11th or 12th year — can radically transform a person from a child to a young adult.

Girls tend to embrace the transformation earlier and more enthusiastically.  Many 11-year-old girls are eager to act as mother hen.  She’s been auditioning for the role since the day she got her first baby doll.  She’s been wanting to play teacher since the first day of kindergarten.  Now she’s got the opportunity to ply her trade with real live children and she will work it for all it is worth.

The change from camper to counselor is not the exclusive domain of the girls, however.  Boys around 11 to 13 will normally also hit the stage where they are too old for the kids’ activities but are still going to be involved in one way or another.  There is often a  younger sibling who will be participating and big brother is going to be dragged to the event anyway.  So why not take the opportunity to express his grown up-ness by acting as an authority over his former peers?

There are some dangers inherent in the transition.  Tweens — especially those who have grown up in authoritarian households or under the thumb of an overbearing older sibling — tend to seize the chance to chaperone the younger kids as an opportunity to boss them around.  These Tweens will require extra supervision and guidance before they are ready to actively perform any supervisory duties.

Others — particularly those Tweens who were less eager to participate and maybe coerced into the role by parents — may associate too closely with the younger charges to act as any sort of authority.  They may have trouble enforcing rules, even those designed for the safety of their charges.  These Tweens will need some extra instruction and additional reinforcement of their duties – and the reasons behind them – before setting them to task.

Annual events that rely on volunteer help are a great proving ground for young people struggling with the transition between child and adult.  With the right direction and encouragement, involving our Tweens in these events can be not only an opportunity for them to grow but they can also be of great use in assisting us in the management of these activities.  The term win-win has been grossly overused in recent years but it is entirely applicable here.  If we harness the natural growth of our children breaking into their second decade, everyone will benefit.

Comments on From Camper to Counselor