How to Celebrate Camp Counsellors with Small Gifts that Shine

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in Community, Featured, Local, Parent Education Resources, Tips & Advice

How to Celebrate Camp Counsellors with Small Gifts that Shine

While back-to-school promotions are starting to pop up, summer is not over yet. If your child attends summer camp to fill their days outside school, read on! The Teachers on Call in-person and online tutoring team admire all professionals who work with children, including camp counsellors. Anyone who has a favourite camp counsellor understands the important role they play, working long days (often weekends) to plan educational and recreational programs for kids. Many camp counsellors are students themselves, and will be heading back to high school, college, or university in the fall. Camp leaders also include teachers and other education professionals, usually in supervisory roles. With a couple of weeks left until the start of school, you may be wondering how to express your gratitude to your camp staff team. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. With two young campers herself, our president, Joanne Sallay, has some great ideas to share with your family!

        For busy families on the go, camp can be a gamechanger for students and their parents. Whether your child attends overnight, day camp or a combination, it provides an opportunity for students to forge new friendships, learn skills and engage in fun activities, all while making memories to last a lifetime. Camp counsellors make this possible with their strong leadership skills, as effective communicators who are creative and responsible, just to name a few character traits. From my experience, any gift will come as a big surprise as camp counsellors do not expect this at all, yet the sentiment will be so appreciated. 

        First, is it appropriate to give gifts?

        You may be asking yourself if gift-giving is even permitted. So, a few things to keep in mind before you start shopping. Some camps may have a no-gifting policy that involves camp counsellors not being allowed to accept compensation or expensive gifts. However, from my personal experience, most camps will permit families to provide small items as tokens of their appreciation. When in doubt, ask the camp director for approval first (you may want to give them a present too!).

        Given how popular end-of-year teacher gift ideas are, this inspired something similar, but for end-of-summer camp counsellors gifts. The big difference here being that camp counsellors are often students themselves, and you will likely need larger quantities of gifts depending on the amount of camp staff there are, and the number of different camps attended by your child over the summer stretch. As both my children love camp, here are some ideas I have tried out throughout the years that won’t break the bank and will acknowledge the special counsellors in your life. Many of these ideas will apply to winter and spring break camp counsellors too!

        Here are 6 Inexpensive and Impactful Camp Counsellor Gift Ideas:

        Nut-free Treats

        From my experience, you can’t go wrong with treats, if they are nut-free! Most camps have strict food policies given allergies. The nice thing about goodies is that they can be easily shared by a larger group. If you can support local, even better. Recently, I gave Olivia’s Cake Pops out to the camp staff to share as they are so colourful and fun with a party-in-a-box feel (you can buy year-round at Longos or seasonally at Costco), and they were a huge hit! I have also experimented with other sweets from refreshing freezies (love Deebee’s Organics, feel-good all-natural freezies) to jumbo boxes of twinkies, and all received with smiling faces!

        Personalized Camp Counsellor Labels

        I am a big fan of personalized labels, as I often recommend them for back-to-school season and end-of-year teacher gifts. So, no surprise this is something I have given to camp counsellors. When my kids attended sports camp, this was my go-to gift given all the equipment their instructors would lug around. While you can order official camp labels, if your child has many counsellors to acknowledge, I am a fan of Mabel’s Labels Birthday Party Label Pack that gives you an opportunity to gift 6 counsellors personalized labels. It can be customized too with icons to match. For instance, if your child attends an athletic camp, you may want to try a soccer ball beside their name. Since many camp counsellors are students themselves, it will come in handy for the school year ahead. Only thing you need to find out is their actual names, as many camp counsellors go by nicknames with their campers (I have seen everything from Lightning, Hot dog, Skittles and Mango), although that can work too!

        If you like this idea, we have a discount code - TEACHERSONCALL - for 15% off from Mabel’s Labels!

        Local Gift Cards

        Like teachers, camp counsellors also love gift cards (who doesn’t?). It’s a relatively easy way to provide a gift that will get them exactly what they need (or want) most. Try to find a gift card for something in area and support local if possible, such as a café, ice cream, gelato or coffee shop close to camp. For this type of experience, you can give an amount that won’t break the bank and still provide a special gift.

        Useful Day-to-Day Camp Gear

        I am also a fan of practical items that can be used in day-to-day camp. Counsellors are outside all day, so something useful is always appreciated. This summer, I noticed many of our camp counsellors did not have lightweight hats for the hot summer days, so we gifted Teachers on Call baseball caps for them to wear and keep them safe from the sun (they also have SPF!). While it does not need to be a branded hat, you get the idea!

        Camp Customized School Supplies

        Just like your children, many camp counsellors will be heading back to school in September.  You can always get them some personalized school supplies, such as a pencil case or water bottle with a camp reference. If you love DIY and have a Cricut machine or access at your closest library with a makerspace, the world is your oyster with the limitless possibilities for customization. For some fun yet inexpensive items, try your local dollar store, and remember to have your child accompany you to pick them out.

        Thank You Cards and Praise

        Camp counsellors are no different than teachers in this department. Having your child show their appreciation with a homemade card is likely the greatest gift of all. This can be paired with a small gift or be standalone. It’s also nice if you can share positive feedback with the camp director. This can go a long way in ensuring your favourite staff return and receive quality references for their resumes. All in all, in my opinion, you can never go wrong by showing your gratitude.

        Feel free to share any unique ideas that you have tried and would add to the list. If you are looking to learn more about camps near you, there are variety of non-profit organizations to explore including the Alberta Camping Association, British Columbia Camps Association, Ontario Camps Association, and The Canadian Camping Association. Enjoy the last of summer and happy shopping!

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