The earliest seeds for this book were planted many years ago at a summer camp near Lake Arrowhead, California. Like many camps, this one had a CIT (counselor in training) program. It also had a session for teens that focused both on art and drama, and on camp improvement projects. None of these programs were formally labeled “teen leadership” as far as I recall, but looking back it is clear that while leadership may not have been the focus of the programs, it was a strong element.
Like many camps, we counselors would arrive before the campers to help prepare the camp and to undergo some training. And looking back I still believe that the training we received was excellent – given the limited time we had available. But I have to admit, when I started out that first summer there were a lot of things I didn’t know.
This book is called “Developing Teen Leadership, a practical guide for youth group advisors, teachers and parents”. But make no mistake: the only reason “camp counselors” isn’t in the title is because of lack of space. This is the book I wish I had that first summer when I first faced a group of kids, and again the next summer when I faced a group of teens for the first time – a group which was in no hurry to give me the benefit of the doubt.
I suspect that the scariest thing any camp director must face is choosing their staff. That moment when you turn over a group of teens to a barely trained counselor who is just a few years older than the campers must be one of the hardest – knowing that some will succeed and thrive, but others may not last out the first week (I’ve seen both cases).
It is my hope and intent that “Developing Teen Leadership” will be the book that will help shift the odds – a book that any camp director can hand to their staff and know that their program staff and counselors will be that much better equipped for the summer, and that the campers and camp will in turn benefit from what they have learned.