4-H Camp Counseling

4-H Camp
A Leadership
Building Experience
The Research Study
Conducted by the Wisconsin Youth
in Public Leadership Issue Team
All Wisconsin counties were invited
to participate
Conducted in the summer of 2003,
compiled and analyzed fall and
winter 2003-2004
Summer 4-H Camping Programs
in Wisconsin
63 counties reported doing residential summer camps
Those programs utilized more than 700 counselors
Served nearly 3,000 campers
Provided approximately 150 days
of residential camping experience
61 agents reported well over 400
hours invested in counselor training
time statewide
Research Question:
do camp counselors learn
from their
44 counties (62%)
274 completed surveys were
returned from a possible 390
counselors in participating counties
(Return rate = 70%)
1,899 campers were served by
these counselors in 2003
Skills Gained from the
Counseling Experience
People skills/working with youth
Problem Solving
Planning & Organizing
Counselors said…
“As a result of being a counselor, I have
been able to gain valuable leadership skills
that will help me in the future.”
“Each year I think I gain even more people
skills with a variety of ages and I know
that is something that will help me
throughout my lifetime.”
Another counselor stated…
“Camp counseling has
given me the chance to
be in charge of a large
group and lead them in
activities. It has
taught me to deal with
problems quickly and
effectively. If an
activity falls through, I
have learned to come up
with an alternative
while still being
Leadership Skills Gained:
Planning and
- Preparing for camp,
back-up plan, scheduling
- Dealing with camper
issues, relating to group
- Helping each other,
accomplish more together
Counselors stated they will use the
leadership skills they gained at camp
in their local community:
Working with children
Taking charge in
leadership roles
Planning and
together on a goal
Counselor Skills They Will Use in Future
Planning and organizing
Knowledge of how to work effectively with kids
“Working with campers really gives
me an idea and the leadership
experience I would need to be a
When asked what was unique about
being a 4-H camp counselor, the top
three responses were:
Understanding and working with children
Role modeling
One counselor stated, “I never had to be the
leader of a group for three days and two nights.
The kids always looked up to me for direction and
support. It taught me more responsibility than I
ever had before.”
Training helps prepare
counselors for their role and
actively involves them in
planning experiences for
Includes topics such as:
* understanding campers’
needs and development
* emotional and physical
safety, first aid, handling
* dealing with difficult or
problem situations
* conflict resolution
* teamwork
* teaching/leading skills
* role modeling
Results and Implications
of the Study:
Counselors reported significant life skill development
as a result of their counseling experience.
Counselors indicated that these skills will be used in
future community involvement, as well as in careers.
The large amount of responsibility placed on
counselors warrants significant expenditures of
programming time and resources for training and
preparation for the role.
In Conclusion…
Counselors serve
important volunteer
leadership roles in the
4-H summer camping
Campers benefit from
their leadership.
Counselors gain helpful
leadership skills from
their training and
In addition…
Besides describing in detail, and through
examples, how camp counseling was a
learning experience, 4-H teens also
described camp as
“Awesome!” “Exciting!” and “Fun!”
So, 4-H summer camp counseling
is not only educational, it is also
motivating, leading to success and
positive youth development!
This presentation was developed by the
Research Committee of the Wisconsin Youth
in Public Leadership Issues Team
June, 2004
Research Committee members:
Katy Forsythe
Linda Kustka
Robert Matysik
Karen Nelson