From the Blog

Developing Homegrown Staff: Camp Bernie’s Counselor in Training Program

One of the most successful programs at YMCA Camp Bernie is our CIT program, a 4 week opportunity for rising 11th graders to learn the ins and outs of becoming camp counselors in the future.


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Our 2012 CIT class is officially underway, with 11 kids enrolled for the first 4 weeks of camp and another 12 coming for the summer’s second half. This program has grown considerably in recent years, thanks in part to international interest. This year is no exception as 4 of our CITs are from Europe (Spain and Germany, to be precise). 
To put this program in perspective, 13 of our 2012 Counselors are former CITs, including our Iroquois Unit Leader, our Male CIT Director, our Archery Instructor and one of the Aquatics Instructors. YMCA Camp Bernie has placed an emphasis on developing homegrown staff through this program; in fact, our organization takes tremendous pride in watching children grow through younger units to older units, and from CITs to Junior Counselors and eventually senior staff. 
The program itself consists of a mix of training topics, such as bullying discussions or lessons in building cabin spirit, as well as learning about facilitating program activities and running special events. Every Sunday of overnight camp will be “CIT Sunday”, as our counselors in training will take complete ownership of the day, running morning Chapel, afternoon activities and evening program. 
The CITs will also have the opportunity to take a two night trip to the Delaware Water Gap, experiencing a mix of hiking and canoeing (not to mention some good old fashioned bonding!) and will be working diligently on a service project here at camp, in hopes that they will leave a distinct mark for future campers here at Bernie. 
The best advocates for our program, of course, are the kids themselves. Here are some actual quotes from the 2012 class about themselves and how they will impact YMCA Camp Bernie through the CIT program: 
“Children should be leaving for the better after coming to camp and have new friendships”. 
“You need to show the kids respect, care for them to the fullest of your abilities…it is important to be responsible and think about your actions before you perform them”. 
“An excellent camp counselor is dedicated, hard working, positive, patient and friendly. I like to think that I most embody patience”. 
“I will serve as a positive role model for the campers. I will be an active participant through my involvement in activities, listening to our campers’ thoughts and concerns and sharing of ideas”. 
“I know the songs, cheers and rituals. I love kids, and I want everyone to enjoy camp as much as I do, so I’d try my best to make sure everyone is having a great time”. 


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