In Episode 149, I’m talking with repeat podcast guest Stephen Gray Wallace about his new book, Impact: An Introduction to Counseling, Mentoring, and Youth Development. The book offers insightful commentary on the important role of mentors in the lives of children and teens. While it specifically addresses camp counselors, Impact is equally relevant for all key youth influencers, including parents, teachers, and coaches.
Stephen has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent/family counselor. He is president and director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), a former associate research professor at Susquehanna University, and the past national chairman and chief executive officer at SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Driving Drunk). Stephen also works with the American Camp Association (ACA) as a feature magazine writer, media spokesperson and faculty member at its e-Institute for Professional Development.
Review of IMPACTDecades of experience and research are packed into Wallace’s guide for leaders at summer camp. Wallace communicates the responsibility and life-changing impact counselors can have and the many facets of their role, which go far beyond what most people think of when they hear the job “camp counselor.” Covering a multitude of topics that are critical for counselors to understand, with discussion questions at the end of each chapter, the book is user-friendly and can be quickly incorporated into staff training. Lists that offer key takeaways of each concept on topics including developmental stages, disciplinary dos and don’ts, leadership styles, and effective teaching techniques (to name just a few) are instrumental as both a reference and training tool for camp staff. IMPACT needs to be assigned reading for every camp counselor, as the guide clearly communicates the magnitude of the responsibility counselors have for the physical and emotional well-being of other people’s children, the critical importance of developing positive relationships with each of the campers they serve, and an understanding of what to expect and how to handle the different challenges they will face. Camp leaders wanting to be informed and have a positive impact (without having to read the scores of books and articles Stephen Wallace has read) need to read IMPACT and keep it as a resource to refer to when planning training and coaching staff.
– Audrey Monke, camp director, speaker, & author of Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults
• Sharing appropriately with our kids can build our relationships with them and allow them to see us as humans, not as someone who “has it all figured out.”
• It’s important to allow the people we lead (kids or adults) to help create the “Why” or the mission statement behind what we’re doing.
• There are resources geared toward camp counselors that can be applicable to parents and anyone who works with kids.
Audrey: These things that we teach our camp counselors are equally applicable for coaches, teachers, parents, really, anyone who works with kids.
Audrey: Our own challenge or resilience stories are really good to share with the kids we work with.
Audrey: As parents, we see our kids as they were, and not as they are, we remember them being very small. We also know their weaknesses so well that sometimes we can underestimate their abilities.
Stephen: We can remind our counselors and staff that we care about them as people by asking questions that aren’t just about their schedule for the day.
Stephen: I ask them, “Who are your favorite people? Who made you feel loved and taken care of? Who made you laugh? What made you cry? How did you feel about being away from home?” Because I always say our own experiences as children is probably our best guide and that goes for parents as well.
Stephen: Kids need mentors of all ages, but the close in age mentors are so powerful because kids really can relate to them and see themselves in them.
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