What can we learn from research on camp counselors?: The role of personality

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 1.29.25 PMLoveland, J. M., Gibson, L. W., Lounsbury, J. W., & Huffstetler, B. C. (2005). Broad and narrow personality traits in relation to the job performance of camp counselors. Child and Youth Care Forum, 34(3), 241-255.


The authors sought to test whether personality traits could be linked to performance ratings of youth camp counselors. Assessment tools could be helpful to find traits associated with successful youth workers, including mentors and afterschool staff, with the goal to select workers with these traits beforehand and reduce the high degree of turnover among child-care workers. Identifying traits that are key to success could also inform training to help cultivate these traits.


Participants were 145 camp counselors in a girl’s summer camp in the southeastern United States, with a median age of 20 years. They completed a personality assessment instrument before being hired. After the camp season, supervisors of each counselor completed job performance ratings.


 The personality traits of extraversion and agreeableness (being helpful and cooperative) were significant positive predictors of job performance, underscoring the importance of social and interpersonal qualities. Emotional stability was also found to be important, as was conscientiousness (being reliable, orderly, and responsible).

Conclusion and Implications

Personality assessment may be considered as part of a prematch selection process in mentoring. Supervisors could use assessment results as selection criteria, or they could even tailor training to help emphasize personality factors that are associated with successful performance. Furthermore, individual personality profiles for mentors may also provide a basis for individual training and follow-up sessions. For example, a person who does not rate as extraverted may benefit from staff support on activities to try with a mentee.