Guest Post: Things That Make For a Terrific Camp Counselor

This post was contributed by Brett Gardner, Skyhawks Franchise Owner and local resident. I was elated and relieved by her passion for kids and health as well as her keen insight about youth sports on the Peninsula. We have already seen great improvements to the program and are looking forward to our future working relationship with Skyhawks! You can still register for Summer Camps either directly through Skyhawks or through our website at, some are starting NEXT WEEK!


A wise employee from the Redwood City Parks and Recreation Department once told me, “Your camps are only as good as your worst staff member.” And, she was so right. Kids can spot a lame camp counselor a mile away. So, parents, when you are looking at summer camps, be sure to consider whom will be staffing them. It is not unreasonable to expect a camp to be able to provide you with at least a summary of who will be coaching your little (or big) ones.

Here are three rules to live by when evaluating camp staff.

  1. First, if it’s a sports camp, do they know the sport they’re teaching?  Just because someone played football when they were in third grade doesn’t mean that they know enough about the sport to teach it. Same goes for art camps, dance, theater, etc. Look for staff that did that activity at the high school level. Better yet, see if they are currently doing it in college. The more camp staff knows the activity, the more they can teach your child

  2. Second, have they worked with kids before? A great sculptor does not ensure that they will be a great teacher. But, there are lots of them who are truly gifted with kids. Find them – they are out there.
  3. Third, is the camp staff full of counselors who, in some ways, are still kids at heart? Working at a camp is a labor of love. In a perfect world, they are there because they want to pay it forward to the next generation of kids. To do this, they have to remember what it was like to be seven and just learning how to play golf, flag football or do ballet.

An official recovering Silicon Valley “executive,” I now own Skyhawks Sports Camps  Mid-Peninsula, which serves kids in Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont and Half Moon Bay starting June 11th.  When I started recruiting coaches and directors for my camps, I kept in the front of my mind the advice that sage Parks and Rec employee gave me.

When I started my interviewing process, I already had in mind what the ideal camp coach and director would be. I remember when I went to camps as a kid, my coaches were like rock stars to me. They were the local high school sports heroes that we all followed as if they were in the pros.  But, not only were they terrific athletes, they made me feel like I was the most special kid at camp.

And, the truly outstanding ones made an indelible mark on me that carried me through to adulthood.

Fast forward to today and I started looking for my staff with those characteristics in mind. I was lucky enough to find 100% of my coaches almost in my own back yard.

In the course of interviewing potential coaches, I found lots of sports-minded kids from the local community who are excited about the idea of instilling the love of sports, and sportsmanship, to others. Our summer staff, many of whom are current or former students from Sequoia High School, is amazing. Not only do they have wonderful sports backgrounds, they are outstanding people who want to help and encourage the next generation of up and coming athletes. I’m certain each and every one of them will have a positive impact on the kids coming to our summer camps.  I can’t wait to see how our participants respond to this group of counselors who are eager to give them the sports camp experience of their lives.

The end result? Happy kids!

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