This blog is a tribute to my brother, Bobby. He’s our Head Counselor at Camp Caribou and he’s also my younger brother. I couldn’t be more proud of the job he’s doing at our camp.
Camp Caribou has been in our family since 1968, when my Dad’s parents (Evelyn and Albert Lerman) bought the camp. They’re both still coming up to camp every summer, and they’re 86 and 87 years old…amazing, right?!
My parents, and current Directors, Bill and Martha Lerman have really set the tone for our camp. This includes what values are important to us as a camp community and as a family.
During our Staff Orientation, we spend a lot of time teaching how to nurture our campers. Bobby, who is an unusually thoughtful man for his age, has been at Camp Caribou since he was born and he spends a lot of time with the staff on the topic of nurturing.
Bobby is now 25 and has grown up through the ranks. He’s had every kind of counselor as his own caretakers, he’s worked with every kind of counselor as their co-counselor, and now he is helping to train all the different kinds of people that our camp brings in every summer.
We ask a lot from our staff. We want them to start thinking like a parent would think, predicting how a situation may accelerate and how to avoid that, and how to really care for a child…in a way that makes the child feel safe, comfortable, and happy.
It can be a bit of an adjustment for these young men (usually in their early to mid twenties) to start thinking about somebody else before themselves. We heavily screen our staff before they arrive, and we are sure that they’re all wonderful young people, who are excited about working with children, but we can’t see how well they nurture. It’s a difficult skill to measure over the phone or Skype, so when they arrive at camp, we spend a lot of time on “the little things” you can do for your campers to show them you care.
Bobby’s style of teaching empathy is filled with so much passion and enthusiasm that it’s hard not to get on board with what he’s asking. He demonstrates all types of situations that have come up through the years, and asks the counselors how they would respond. He paints clear and logical pictures of adolescent social chemistry…and the skills that some children are missing in order to navigate successfully. He talks about how to be an ally for the child who’s on the “outside” of the social group.
Bobby has had so much success in this particular area when he was a bunk counselor. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a dozen socially insecure children that Bobby has helped turn into camp legends.
Camp Caribou is a place where we celebrate the differences in each other, and you can feel safe to be yourself.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge®, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.