Connor Hoch: My Experience As A Leader In Training

View of Submarine Rock during recent leader In Training backpacking trip. Photo by Connor Hoch/
Student Intern
Los Alamos Daily Post

Being a leader is something that can be either exhilarating or catastrophic. Even though a leadership role can be exhausting, it will teach you life experience, leadership and responsibility.

Especially when being a leader at a summer camp like I have. My experience being a Leader In Training (LIT) at the YMCA Camp Shaver has forever changed my perspective of taking care of people. I do not regret a second of it though, for the experience has made me a better person.

Being a LIT is a big decision as it has given me extreme amounts of responsibility, patience, accountability and leadership. To be an LIT, you have to be at least 14 years old and stay at Camp Shaver for three week. Also, you register for camp at

Those weeks are broken up into different sections. The first week is leadership training (team building), the second is what is called a “four day”. The four day is when you go on a four day backpacking trip into the mountains and learn to be able to handle your teammates for an extended amount of time to get used to dealing with the kids in your cabin.

The third week is being in cabins and shadowing counselors and classes. This helps you to understand what it is like to be a counselor. Of course with all this it can get a little stressful. You may get stressed out from the kids you are supervising. Or being under pressure to do well while helping with classes. Even through that, I’ve become a better person through the experience of caring for an older group and having to face the hardships head on. 

The second part to the Camp Shaver Leader In Training program is working with the other LITs that you are with. They make or break your LIT session. The people that you stay in cabins with are important. If you are friendly and helpful to your LIT group, they will pay it back to you. You may feel exhausted, and they will be there for you. If you aren’t friendly, they won’t pay you back with any kind of help. It is important that you get along with the people in your session. The other part that comes with that is patience in your cabin. Your cabin mates are with you for a week, so make their week the best week they can have. 

The third part of the LIT program is participation in activities, such as classes, songs, camp games, cabin activities, and service projects. The songs may seem childish, but it is important to show the other kids that the songs are in good fun and should encourage your campers to sing along and have fun. It is also important that you show your campers that you are someone to be looked up to. Whether that be giving your kids time to do fun activities or be respected in the cabin. Sometimes the LITs are the same age as some of the campers, but they still are leaders and deserve to be respected through their hard work and effort. 

As an LIT, you will need to be prepared for hard work, accountability, leadership, honesty, respect, patience and overall spirit. Your experience is what you make of it. The experience can be great or horrible. You must be able to do anything at any time. You will have fun, if you want to have fun. As an LIT myself, I will go onto another stage of leadership, which is the Counselor In Training or CIT. Then eventually a counselor.

I will go on to be a Junior counselor and then a Senior counselor. A Junior counselor is paid $150 a week. A Senior counselor is paid $170 a week. Phil Beam, director of YMCA Camp Shaver, said a Junior counselor only differs from a Senior counselor by age and pay grade. The Junior counselor is younger than 18 while the Senior counselor is 18 or older. The responsibility as a Senior counselor is taking care of the campers when no one else is around and being at any event that the campers may be doing.

As a counselor, I will have the responsibilities of always being there for the kids I am caring for, always taking an honest and accountable position, always have a high spirit for whatever I am doing and creating a fun and worthwhile experience for the campers. That is a few years from now, though. 

The camp runs all summer so there is always a way to get into the YMCA Camp Shaver experience. I will forever be changed by this program.