Whether it’s group sing-a-longs, roasted marshmallows, or competitive color wars, every camp has its own set of traditions. Camp traditions are an integral part of camp; kids and adults alike look forward to them. They deepen connections and create lasting memories. And also, they’re just plain fun! One, of many, traditions campers and staffers enjoy is the use of nicknames. If you’ve never considered swapping out your counselors’ real names for something a bit more unusual, here are five reasons to start.

1. It Creates Magic

Summer camp is a special place where kids can explore away from home, build new skills and create confidence. They are new and exciting, sometimes mysterious, and always an adventure!  

Listening to campfire stories from a couple of counselors named John or Jennifer is okay. But somehow, you already know Hawk and Meatloaf tell them better. Offbeat names create an instant kind of magic and hint that there’s a secret to share. 

2. It Keeps Things Light

Fun camp names give kids a way to relate to adults and also remind adults not to take themselves too seriously. It’s a good time for everyone involved. 

Announcing a quirky nickname is a great ice breaker and conversation starter. The answer could be completely serious or catch you by surprise. You never know and that’s all part of the fun.  

Maybe Hawk just knows cool facts about birds of prey. Or maybe his eyesight is so sharp he can spot campers sneaking snacks from a mile away. And maybe Meatloaf really likes meatloaf for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Or, maybe it’s something random she mumbles in her sleep. Either way, the names create intrigue, and it knocks down walls and eases first-day jitters. 

3. It’s Simple

Nicknames keep things simple by eliminating same-name counselor confusion. Instead of Ashley A, B, and C they could be Bug, Fairy, and Lavender, and the problem is solved. What’s more, nicknames can actually help campers to remember their counselors better, too. That’s because, with catchy names, kids can make personal connections and relate.  

4. It Unifies Staff

Coming up with nicknames creates a unique counselor bonding experience. After all, it’s not every day someone gets to pick a new name for themselves or friends. 

So, what’s in a name, anyway? That’s for each counselor to decide. The good news is, there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it.  Here are two options to get going.  

  • Present the nickname idea to new camp counselors and give them a week to choose their own. Encourage them to draw inspiration from nature, interests, or whatever calls to them. When the week is up, form a huddle and allow each person to reintroduce themselves to the group.  
  • At the end of counselor training, hold a special naming ceremony. Each new counselor will stand on the stage in front of their peers and wait for a new name. The other counselors will then brainstorm names for their friends based on things they’ve learned about them. They can use their personality, background, and hobbies they’ve shared. Discuss some ground rules beforehand, too. This way no one ends up with a name they dislike or are uncomfortable with.  

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