‘Step into my office’: My summer as a Water Ski Coach
“There are very few bigger senses of pride than witnessing the smile on the face of a 5-year old when they water ski for the first time, or their excitement when they land a trick they have tried for so long and knowing that you were part of that.”
Imagine saying “Step into my office”, but your office isn’t a cubicle in an office building; it’s actually a pristine Super Air Nautique (For those of you who aren’t up to speed on the wakeboarding lingo, that means a wakeboarding boat). Well, welcome to my life as a Water Ski Coach!
We have all heard the stories of Camp Counsellors, but what about the tails of the Activity Specialists? For me, my position at summer camp was a Waterski and Wakeboard Coach. I grew up skiing, so when I got the opportunity to get paid to coach it (and do it, maybe even more than the kids...but shhh, ski staff secrets), and live on a beautiful lake in Canada’s wilderness, why wouldn’t I? And why wouldn’t you?
Let me break down a typical day for you (if there is such a thing as typical day at camp): ski, eat, sing, ski, sing eat, dance, play, ski, dance, eat, ski ski, ski, repeat. I’m not even kidding!
First thing in the morning, you’ll wake up to a tune echoing through the camp. It’s no doubt an overplayed teen pop sensation, but you learn to love it...you’ll just never admit it to your mates back home.
You put on your daily uniform of board shorts, tank top, and sunnies. You step out of your cabin to be greeted by the promised land; a lake so smooth you can’t help but get, what I like to call, the “ski staff itch”. You’ll race down to the dock, and no doubt, your fellow ski staff will be there trying to decide who gets first ski and it will be the best start to any workday you’ve ever had.
You then make it to breakfast, eat some French toast topped with the Canadian icon - stringy bacon swimming in maple syrup. You’ll chant ridiculous, but catchy camp songs that you can never get out of your head, play some table games, clean up, and set off to face the day.
This isn’t your regular 9-5 office job; my morning commute consists of driving speed boats across a lake to a dock. That’s where the real fun starts! Think of an environment where high fives and fist bumps are thrown around like candy at a fair. It’s hard to explain the vibe on a ski dock until you’ve worked it, but you’ll find it hard to believe you’re being paid for it!
For the next few hours, you’ll be driving the boat, teaching, laughing, and telling stories until that catchy song hits the speakers again...and that means lunch! Much like breakfast there’s singing and dancing, and the odd full camp challenge or game of trivia. But the best part of lunch is that it’s followed by rest hour, or what ski staff like to call “Surf hour”. Camp Counsellors and campers go to the cabin and rest, while we surf!
Once your staff fun is done, you’ll have a few more hours of embracing that ski life vibe on the dock, inspiring kids to try new things, and dishing out more of those high fives. Then night time falls, my favorite part of being a Water Ski Coach.
To me, being a Water Ski Coach is similar to being the ‘Cool Uncle’ of the camp world. You get to enjoy your time with the campers during the day and teach them new things, and once nighttime hits, the Camp Counsellors will take over.
On the flip side, you also get to play the games, sing the songs, dance the dance, but when it’s all said and done, you go skiing again. Let me tell you, there is no feeling like water skiing at sunset and cruising back to the boat house at twilight. And the best part? You get to do it all again the following day.
The magic of camp
So that’s your ‘typical’ day as a Water Ski Coach, but it’s so much more than that. Summer camp is more than just the activity you teach. You will be a part of some of the biggest moments in your campers’ lives. You’ll make connections you never thought possible, with people from all across the world, all through the love of camp.
You spend your days witnessing massive milestones. Trust me, there are very few bigger senses of pride than witnessing the smile on the face of a 5-year old when they water ski for the first time, or their excitement when they land a trick they have tried for so long and knowing that you were part of that. I distinctly remember jumping out of the boat to hug one camper who landed her first 180 after weeks of trying.
That’s what camp does to you; you'll look at your campers as your children, and nothing feels better than watching them progress. For me, summer camp is all about sharing my passion, and it will shock you how much impact you have on the kids!
You’ll spend your days being the idol of your campers and your nights bonding with your peers, making friendships that will last forever. A summer at camp is like no other; there are colour wars, camp olympics, pranks, pyjama parties, discos, talent nights, food fights and most of all, long-lasting memories and a sense of family.
You’ll have an impact on every kid that you come into contact with. No doubt a Camp Counsellor is there through thick and thin, but as an Activity Specialist, I guarantee you’ll be part of the campers’ fondest camp memories!