By: Lime Green Giraffe Social Media Director, Avery B.

If there’s one thing absolutely every girl should get to experience at least once in her life, I believe it should be Girl Scout camp. All the new activities, new friends, new adventures…it’s truly amazing! And some of the people who make camp possible are all of the awesome counselors who spend their summers making Girl Scout camp a place girls want to be. This past summer, I got to experience some of what counselors do. I participated in the Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program at Camp Timber Ridge. There are two parts to this program, CIT I and CIT II, and both the certifications you receive are nationally recognized. Both of the programs, CIT I and CIT II, are two weeks long, something to keep in mind when considering if it fits into your schedule.
Remember, the experiences described below are what the CIT program is like at Camp Timber Ridge. There is no guarantee that you will have the same experiences at a different Girl Scout camp.
During CIT I, you spend the first week trying out some of the camp activities and sitting down for training, learning how to react in emergency situations, interact with campers, and plan for an activity. The second week, you are assigned to a counselor. You shadow that counselor, helping out with their campers and their activities. This eases you into the leadership position, so don’t worry, you aren’t expected to immediately be in charge of everything!
The first week of CIT II, because you already have experience helping out around camp, you begin to shadow a counselor right away. However, unlike CIT I, if you would like you can also train to be a lifeguard during this week. Lifeguard training is the official Red Cross training, so you can use this certification elsewhere as well. The second week, you and your fellow CITs are in charge of planning all the activities. The counselors will help you of course, but you’re the one in charge of gathering supplies, leading the girls, making sure the activity will work and much more.
Now, I can tell you all day long about the various activities you do in the CIT program, but that would never fully inform you about everything being a Counselor-In-Training entails. To better do this, I asked the leader of the CIT program at Camp Timber Ridge, Belle, what pieces of advice someone should hear if they are thinking about being a CIT. Here is what she said!

  • Don’t be afraid to be silly! Interact with the campers and have fun with them; however, there is a difference between childish and childlike, and it’s important not to cross that line.
  • Come to camp prepared. Know a few different songs, games or activities you could pull out of your back pocket if you have to step up and lead for a little while.
  • Be sure that camp is the place for you – the campers can tell if you don’t want to be there, and it will make the camp experience worse for everyone.
  • Just because you see a counselor or a fellow CIT doing it doesn’t mean it’s right. Stick to what you know you should be doing and don’t follow someone else’s bad example.
  • Keep in mind that you are still learning and growing. Be open to new experiences and don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone!
  • Get your sleep! It will make being energetic with the campers a lot easier and it will make the CIT experience more fun than if you were exhausted the whole time.
  • Don’t be afraid to disconnect. CIT I doesn’t allow phones, but even in CIT II, the camp experience is so much better if you are focused on being present and enjoying the moment rather than being focused on your phone.
  • Don’t get involved in the drama. There will be conflicts among counselors and CITs. It will happen with so many people of different backgrounds and opinions working together. It is always best to just stay out of it and stay focused on camp.
  • Leave your beliefs at the gate. Camp is a place to encourage all campers and your personal thoughts and opinions should never get in the way of that.   

Being a CIT is an amazing way to stay involved at camp, even as an older girl, and to help younger campers have the same awesome camp experience. I would definitely recommend the CIT program and I hope to see you all at camp!

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