This summer, I started working my favorite job I’ve ever had.

I’m working as a counselor at a nature day camp near my house.  At Hidden Meadows, kids come Monday through Friday, from 9:30 to 4:00, to play, learn, and experience nature.  And I get to facilitate this.

Basically, I’m getting paid to do what I already like to do – be outside and play with kids. Yeah. It’s pretty awesome.

That said, it’s also been really tough.  Being with 10 5-6 year olds non-stop for 6 hours and 45 minutes a day is rough.  In the past week, I’ve learned a lot.  Hopefully some of this will be good practice for being the mom I hope to be someday.  If not, well, I guess I’ll get a really good sock tan. Here’s a non-comprehensive list about what I’ve learned.

Ten Things I’ve Learned from One Week of Being a Counselor

  1. Children will always surprise you.  The thing you think will be sooo awesome, and will consume 45 minutes of their attention will occupy 5.  The thing you only plan 10 minutes for will take them an hour.
  2. Give a kid a drink, and they will spill it.  Give a kid an important paper, and they will ruin it.   Give a kid a drink next to an important paper, and they will destroy it. (Lesson learned!)
  3. Sometimes, you really do just want to throw that sassy-pants kid off a cliff. Deep breaths are important.
  4. Kids are absolutely hilarious, if you take the chance to talk to them. They’re also fantastic liars.  Hilarious, but liars.
  5. Hot, hungry, and tired children are to be avoided at all costs.  They are like gremlins in this fashion.  Cute and fuzzy when well-rested, watered, and fed.  Nightmares when not.
  6. You rarely need to yell at children.  They respond far better when strong rules are given at the outset, and are enforced with a kind, stern voice.  But, in the same vein, rules have to be specific.  Really specific. “Sit down at the picnic table” will not work.  “Butts on seats, feet underneath the table, at the picnic table by the tree,” may work.
  7. Some rules are made up for the sake of your own sanity. (“No whining unless you are bleeding or dead!” )
  8. Children have a really hard time hearing you when you say “it’s time to go!”, but can hear you say “popsicles!” from a mile away.
  9. I’m pretty sure whoever wrote “When You Give a Mouse Cookie…” was a mom.   And “mouse” was a euphemism for “child”, and “cookie” was a euphemism for, um, well, just about anything you might give to a kid.  (They are ruthless about pushing the limits!)
  10. I’m pretty sure that I still want to have 6-8 kids. Seriously. Although you may want to come back and ask me about that at the end of the summer.

That’s it for now.  I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to talk about.  Camp is such a blast, and I already have some pretty funny stories about my kids.  Can’t wait for the rest of the summer!