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The Other Side of the Bunk: From Camper to Counselor

Nicki Miller
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Lexi Reichstein

Lexi Reichstein (pictured, third from left) getting ready to meet the new campers on opening day as a counselor at Camp Young Judea. 

Kids and teens all over the country count down the days until it’s time to go back to summer camp. It is a home away from home, a break from the stress of school and a place for independence and growth. Kids get the opportunity to engage in leadership, meet new people from different places and spend some time away from their families.

Some kids start going to camp as early as eight years old and participate as a camper until age 15.  Though it’s often sad when a camper’s last session of camp comes to a close, many former campers come back to become counselors at their “second home.” These now-teens have gone to camp their whole lives and are now switching to the other side of the bunk.  

Sarah Marion, Rachel Abreu

(From left) Camp counselors Sarah Marion and Rachel Abreu getting ready to meet the campers at Camp Birch Trail.  

Lexi Reichstein, counselor at Camp Young Judaea Texas and rising freshman at The University of Texas at Austin says: “Being a counselor is amazing! I love helping the kids grow and being a part of shaping them into the person they will be in the future.  “It is so interesting to see how the other side of camp works after being a camper for seven years at CYJ Texas. I never knew how much behind-the-scene work went into making sure the campers have an amazing summer.” Lexi is a recent graduate from The Emery/Weiner School. 

Rachel Abreu, counselor at Birch Trail and rising freshman at Indiana University- Bloomington says, “Although being a counselor can be difficult at times, it's the most rewarding job in the world. I hope that my impact on my campers allows them to enjoy the place that is so special to me. The transition from being a camper to a counselor was weird at first, especially seeing the oldest girls doing the same things you did as a camper, but I'd say it got easier after like a week. Even though it's weird sometimes, there's no other place I'd rather work.” Rachel is a recent graduate from The Emery/Weiner School. 

Michael Kaplan, Frankie Rothschild

Michael Kaplan (on left) returned to Camp Sabra as a Counselor in Training this summer. Here he is pictured with co-Counselor in Training Frankie Rothschild.

Michael Kaplan, counselor at Camp Sabra and rising senior at The Emery/Weiner School, says: “Being a counselor is amazing, there is so much freedom yet so much responsibility, I'm glad I'm doing it because it adds so much meaning to my camp experience.  “The transition was strange but it wasn't that different, it's just more about getting used to being in charge of kids instead of a camper.”

Many counselors truly enjoy making a difference in the lives of campers, especially when they were once campers themselves.

Share your camp experience with us here in the comments section below. Searching for camp ideas for this summer or next? See The Buzz Magazines Summer Camp Guide

  • Anna Epstein, Rachel Abreu

    (From left) Anna Epstein and Rachel Abreu enjoying color wars as campers (pictured, in 2014) at Camp Birch Trail. 

  • Michael Kaplan, Jared Steinhart

    Michael Kaplan (on left, pictured as a camper) high-fiving friend Jared Steinhart at Camp Sabra's camping trip. 

  • Lexi Reichstein, Marissa Reichstein

    (From left) Lexi Reichstein as a camper at CYJ Texas with her younger sister, Marissa.

  • Anna Epstein, Rachel Abreu
  • Michael Kaplan, Jared Steinhart
  • Lexi Reichstein, Marissa Reichstein

More photos

Anna Epstein, Rachel Abreu

(From left) Anna Epstein and Rachel Abreu enjoying color wars as campers (pictured, in 2014) at Camp Birch Trail. 

Michael Kaplan, Jared Steinhart

Michael Kaplan (on left, pictured as a camper) high-fiving friend Jared Steinhart at Camp Sabra's camping trip. 

Lexi Reichstein, Marissa Reichstein

(From left) Lexi Reichstein as a camper at CYJ Texas with her younger sister, Marissa.

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