Archive for October, 2011

Make Your Camp Counselor Experience an Effective Tool in Your Job Search

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

So you’ve spent a summer—or maybe the better part of your college career—working as a summer camp counselor.  You’re nearing graduation and you’re starting to pull together your resume for finding a job in the “real world”.  You’ve been wondering, ‘How do I adequately articulate my summer camp experience?’  You’re worried that it will sound trivial to hiring managers, but you know that what you gained from your camp experiences are some of the most valuable skills you’ve learned.  You’ve learned the art of communication, having worked with people all over the world and children ranging in age from seven to fifteen.  You’ve learned the importance of discretion; your campers didn’t need to know EVERYTHING about you.  You’ve learned how to negotiate, mediate, and maintain a positive morale, having coached your campers through swim tests, disagreements, activities, stage fright, and just about a million other things.  You’ve learned time management skills.  How many other job applicants can motivate twelve campers to move across campus from soccer to woodworking in five minutes or less, consistently coax them out of bed at 7am, and convince them that it’s time for lights out after an exciting evening of activities? You’ve learned how to use creativity to solve problems and are MacGyver with a few jars of paint, construction paper, a little bit of fabric, some scissors, and maybe a little glitter…add feathers and beads to that mix and you can practically re-invent the wheel.  In fact, you’ve learned so many things as a summer camp counselor that you’re not even sure how you’re going to fit it all onto one 8 ½” X 11” sheet of paper, nevermind about your other job experience. So how do you convey the importance your summer camp job experience has had on your life in a way that hiring managers will see the value in it, too?

First, as sentimental as those experiences were for you, a hiring manager isn’t looking for the screenplay to the next The Blind Side. They’re looking for prospective employees who can efficiently yet effectively and specifically communicate their skills and abilities in a very concise manner.  This means keep it relevant and as action packed as most of those days at summer camp were.  Convey how active your summer camp job was through the verbs that you choose.
Second, without being too broad, make your resume sing of how well rounded your skill set is because of your summer camp counselor experience.  Employers love diversity.  A resume that sings of it will be sure to get a hiring manager’s attention.

Third, do your homework.  Job hunting is not a one size fits all endeavor.  You need to know and understand not only what you are looking for, but what the company to which you are applying is looking for as well.  If there is a particular quality you feel you possess because of your summer camp counselor experience that makes you a good fit for a position or a company, highlight that one quality in your cover letter.  Explain specifically how you feel your summer job experience and knowledge will translate into the new role.    Having experience is one thing.  Demonstrating that you understand how that experience can be integrated into others speaks volumes.

Fourth, don’t be afraid to remind prospective employers, either in your cover letter or at the interview, that being a camp counselor is a 24/7 job.  Employers are attracted to people who aren’t afraid to throw themselves heart and soul into their work.  What’s more heart and soul than being on duty 24/7?

Finally, be prepared.  Be prepared to tell a hiring manager at an interview EXACTLY why you feel your summer camp experience gives you the edge over other applicants.  When asked, don’t go into a lengthy mumble that basically amounts to a rehash of your summer(s).  Show the hiring manager that you’ve thought long and hard about how your summer camp work experience is relevant to your future and that you understand specifically how to extract your experiences and apply them to other areas of your life.  Most importantly, give examples, give examples, give examples!

Create a Camp Atmosphere All Year Long

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Just because your children are no longer at camp doesn’t mean you can’t create a camp atmosphere in your home.  There are several things you can do to keep the camp spirit alive all year long.

This doesn’t have to be a radical flip of the switch that completely eliminates conveniences and luxuries from your lives.  In fact, such an act is probably not very realistic for many families.  But taking small steps to reduce your children’s reliance on things such as television, video games, and cell phones is a great way to remind them that don’t need them as much as they think they do.  Designate a day or two each week in which you won’t turn on the television or play video games.  Have a family game night instead.  Board games and card games are a great, light-hearted way to bring the entire family together for a few hours.  Turn off cell phones during meal times, before a designated time in the morning, and after a designated time in the evening.  Yes, with the invention of smart phones, we’re becoming increasingly reliant on these convenient little gadgets, but you may be surprised at just how much you enjoy the peace and quiet of a few hours without them each day…and, your family will also likely remember just how much they appreciate having a conversation with someone who is not looking at their cell phone or texting the entire time.

Keep supplies for creative bursts.  Arts & Crafts, Eco Science, and Nature don’t have to be activities restricted to the camp setting.  In fact, many of the projects that your children do at camp can quite easily be done at home, and they’re a great way to fill an afternoon or evening on which you’ve decided to have a break from television and video games.  There are books readily available that walk you step-by-step through such popular camp projects as tie-dying, candle making, beading, shrinky dinks, Mentos geysers, goo, and many more.  YouTube also has a host of videos that demonstrate kid friendly home science and nature experiments.  Keeping a closet or a chest of standard supplies for these types of projects will prevent you from having to make a shopping trip every time the kids want to have some summer camp style fun.

Have a “campfire”.  You might not have a backyard big enough (and there may be some local ordinances against this, even if you do), but consider having a backyard fire.  A patio fire pit, if you have one, is actually ideal.  An operable indoor fireplace works, too.  Make s’mores, tell stories, share memories.  This makes for a great evening to invite friends over because, as every camper will tell you, the more the merrier at a campfire.  If you live in an area in which weather permits, actually taking a weekend camping trip is always fun, too.

Start a garden (if you have a yard) or cook with your children once a week.  Gardening and cooking programs are popular at camp.  Even if you don’t have the space in your yard, herb gardens are easy to maintain and can be grown indoors.  Besides being enjoyable and fun, cooking is a valuable life skill for children to learn.  Let your children look up healthy recipes, talk about nutrition with them, and, most importantly, let them do the work in the kitchen.

Have regular family “out of the house” trips.  At camp, children regularly take “out of camp” trips to places such as local sporting events, the movies, or bowling… They look forward to these trips as a special treat and time to create some very special memories with their camp friends.  Why not make special memories like these as a family?

By making just a few (fun) adjustments, your entire family can enjoy the spirit of camp throughout the year, and it just might make those ten months of waiting a little more bearable for the kids!

Weequahic Soccer…Kaizan!

Friday, October 14th, 2011

There is a great Japanese word, “Kaizan.”  It means improvement or change for the better.  However, it is more than just increasing productivity, or producing a final result.  It is a culture, a daily process that involves praise and encouragement to reach big goals.  At Camp Weequahic “Kaizan” is the perfect word to describe our soccer program.

Soccer has doubled in popularity over the past three summers and is now one of our top team sports.   Campers have the opportunity to participate in daily skill development, tactical instruction, recreational play, and private lessons.

Our choice based program allows campers to choose as much time at soccer as they want.  Instruction for the first time player or more advanced player is available throughout the day.   Campers may also choose our specialty soccer camp during our once a session Wee Excel day. When it comes to instruction, each player is evaluated and placed in soccer classes with other campers of similar age and ability.

Weequahic’s soccer program is directed by a professional soccer coach and staffed with NCAA level college age players who have experience coaching and playing at the college level.  More importantly, they understand the importance of praise and encouragement while creating a fun and engaging environment to grow as a soccer player.

Camp Weequahic’s soccer culture is also supported by Director Kate Kelly and Program Director Sue Baldwin, who were college soccer teammates at Dartmouth College. Kate, a three time team captain for Dartmouth, went on to coach soccer at Northfield Mt. Hermon, a prestigious boarding school in New England, for four years.

Sue was an All- American player who continued her soccer experience with coaching stops at Stanford, Virginia, and Michigan State. She continues to coach actively for local clubs in her hometown of Athens, Georgia.  She also offers private instruction.  Sue guides Weequahic’s soccer director throughout the summer as well as offers special clinics and private instruction to Weequahic’s most enthusiastic soccer players.

Weequahic soccer players are also reaching new heights competing in inter camp soccer games with the Wayne County Athletic Association.  (The Wayne County Athletic Association is comprised of over 20 camps that host tournaments and games throughout the summer.) Camp Weequahic  fields girls’and boys’ soccer teams in all age brackets.

If you are looking to improve your game or just have fun playing soccer then join Team Kaizan at Camp Weequahic this summer!

A First Time Counselor Reflects on Her Summer Camp Experience

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Working at Camp Weequahic was an experience of a life time. Who would have known that being on the opposite side of the country from my family would have been so easy?

I left my house at 6am on a Saturday morning, got on a plane, and had no idea of what to expect. Of course, I knew the details – I was going to be a bunk counselor and part of the waterfront staff. However, I didn’t know who I was going to work with, what my kids would be like or even the age of the children that would be in my bunk. Even though the Weequahic staff helped get me organized and ready, I was very nervous when I boarded the bus from Laguardia Airport to Weequahic.

During orientation I became familiar with the people who I was going to be working with for the next 10 weeks. I never imagined that these people from all over the world would so quickly become my family and more – my 2nd family, my best friends, and my co-workers all in one.

Little did I know my life was very quickly going to get even better when the kids arrived!

During orientation, I couldn’t really imagine the camp with kids. Once my kids got to camp, though, I could no longer imagine Camp Weequahic without them. Bunk 25 – what a wonderful place this was to live this past summer! Working with my girls was the most impactful memory for me; I will never forget the experience of working with my very first campers.

My 8 and 9 year old girls helped me grow up very quickly; they helped me become more independent, more mature, and much more understanding of what parents go through on a day-to-day basis. Bunk 25 will always hold a special place in my heart.

Camp Weequahic isn’t an ordinary place to work. It’s a home, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s a place where you mean the world to so many kids. Camp Weequahic is more than a job, it’s a family.

Alley S.

Summer 2011 Staff