The YMCA of Greater Rochester says in order for someone to become a camp counselor they must first go through a very thorough process.
Once an application is submitted, the YMCA contacts all of the references, which is followed by a phone screening, an in-person interview, and background check. All counselors must be CPR and First Aid certified.
“We go through lots of things — the staff schedule, the schedule for the day, the different situations that might come up, how to talk to campers with different needs, or just different issues that could come up,” said Mike Metzger, a camp counselor.
Metzger says he went through a four week counselor-in- training program as well.
Vice President Michele Rowcliffe says all these qualifications are very important, but training the counselors is just as essential to make sure they are prepared.
“Our counselors do one full week in our overnight camps,” said Rowcliffe. “Any of the staff that are program staff or our lead staff do two full weeks. Those can be up to 16 to 18 hour days per year that were living here so we will work as long as we have to fit everything in,” said Rowcliffe.
Rowcliffe says the staff is also required to go through a child abuse prevention program. She says the safety of the children is the number one priority.
“I think supervision is really a top key area that we focus on,” said Rowcliffe. “We don’t even have a buddy system. We call it a trolley system so we have groups of three going anywhere, whether it’s to the nurse, to the bathroom, or to go get a playground ball.”
The YMCA of Greater Rochester forbids a counselor to be alone at any time with a camper.
“The one thing that we train during staff training is that if we’re always watching our kids and watching each other, we’re never going to have a challenging situation,” said Rowcliffe.
State Police say a camp counselor for the YMCA of Genesee County was drunk, and then went to sleep inside a children’s cabin at Camp Hough, which is part of GLOW YMCA, in Castile. Nicholas Maroney, 20, of Perry, was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
GLOW YMCA is not a member of the YMCA of Greater Rochester system.