'It really feels like an age range that got a little lost during Covid,' camp director says
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Some Central Oregon teenagers are getting a head start on how to handle adult responsibilities.
The SummerKids Junior Counselors Internship Program, hosted by Camp Fire Central Oregon, is going into their fourth successful year of teaching teens important life skills.
Program Director Melanie Feltmate says she is excited about the impact the program has on kids and has seen major growth in the number of teens signing up.
"In the last year, we've seen almost an 80 percent increase in teenagers signing up for our programs," Feltmate said Tuesday.
The teens undergo one week of training before helping counselors manage a large group of kids in a camp setting for two weeks. Feltmate says the number of children campers attending this year has reached full capacity, with over 120 campers attending.
By working closely with the kids and facilitating activities, Feltmate says the junior counselors learn a variety of skills, including behavior management, group management, conflict mediation, and different tips and tricks to work with kids. The daily regimen the junior counselors are expected to follow can also teach accountability.
"We're really treating it as job training, Feltmate says, "and the teens will clock in the middle of the day. They have a supervisor that they check in with. They have rounds that they do. They each have a set of goals that they work on."
Two of the junior counselors shared with us what they value from the program.
"Definitely how to take initiative and be kind and caring," says Quinn Stewart.
"It will give me experience, which I can put on my resume," says Andrew Abraham.
In addition to transferable life skills, Feltmate says one of the biggest lessons she wants the students to take away is having a growth mindset.
"It's okay to not be perfect. It's okay to fail," she says.
She explains the important thing for them to reflect on is how they can improve from their mistakes.
Junior counselors have the opportunity to receive internship credit from their completed involvement in the program.