Be the counselor that all the campers like -- without risking total anarchy.
Step 1: Treat all the kids the same Treat all the kids the same -- from the camp all-star to the bratty kid who keeps reminding you that his parents are paying your salary.
Step 2: Keep homesick kids busy If you get a homesick kid, keep them busy. Don't let them dwell on missing home, and soon it will pass. The hardest time for homesick kids will be at night.
Step 3: Speak to them as peers Speak to the campers as if they are on your level, even if you secretly think they're all a bunch of nose-picking nitwits.
Step 4: Bend the rules in time Start as a firm disciplinarian and then loosen up as the term goes on. It's much easier than going the other way -- and the kids will only remember the fun times at the end. Bend the rules from time to time, so long as the result is harmless.
TIP: Provided bugs aren't a problem, sneak the kids candy. Think of it as protection money to the Mafia -- a small price to pay to keep them from ganging up on you.
Step 5: Make them laugh Bring age-appropriate joke books to camp so you can keep them laughing.
Step 6: Give them some control Give them some control. Let them vote on activities. Whenever possible, give them choices instead of orders.
Step 7: Be a good sport Be a good sport. Laugh it off if they pull a prank on you.
Step 8: Have good ghost stories Have really entertaining ghost stories. Be the camp storyteller.
Step 9: Send them off with a compliment Find something admirable in all of them so you can send each camper off with a meaningful compliment that they can treasure forever.
FACT: When it comes to sleepaway camp, the American Camp Association recommends that parents choose a camp with one staff member for every eight campers ages 9 to 14, and one staff member for every 10 campers ages 15 to 17.