Posts Tagged ‘summer internships’

You Can Never Have Enough Socks

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Arrival: The time has finally come and you have one million different thoughts racing through your head. I can’t believe I am here! Will I fit in? Will I make friends? Will the kids like me? How am I this excited and nervous at the same time? Did I pack enough socks? These feelings are par for the course when coming up the camp road for your first summer at Weequahic. It’s a feeling that any returning staff member remembers vividly and one they are not likely to forget.

Orientation: It’s officially started; your bags are in a bunk, you’ve exchanged a few smiles or started small talk with a couple people, and you are wildly curious as to what a week of training will have in store. You attend meetings that are less of meetings than they are events. Chants, cheers, and skits may not be in your normal comfort zone, but here at Weequahic you have flipped a switch you never knew you had. You have immersed yourself with this group of complete strangers to make a week of learning fun and the nerves of where your summer is headed completely vanish.

Campers Arrive: The nerves are back as fast as they went. The two weeks of orientation felt a lot longer (in a good way) and you’re not too sure you want anything to change. You are attempting to perfect your bunk for the campers’ arrival and also trying to decide how much paint to put on your signs. Cheers erupt as the buses emerge. Nerves are at an all-time high, but the energy of the moment is temporarily paralyzing any fear that attempts to escape. Camper after camper joins your group until the last makes it and you begin introductions as you head towards your bunk; relief sets in.

Week 3: You are at the end of the first session and the halfway point of your summer. Just a few short weeks ago your campers knew more than you did, but that seems like an eternity ago. You are now proficient in the camp schedule, spirit, and probably even the songs. Nerves, what nerves? Only half of the summer has gone by and you are determined to make the most of it. You are sad to see your first session campers leave but can’t wait to meet the new campers who will arrive in a couple of days.

Closing Time: You are in the final days and are trying to relive your summer as it has flown by way too fast. Every “last” moment brings both cheers and tears; you really don’t want to leave. The kids board the buses and the magic of Camp Weequahic has come to an end….for now. As you pack your bags and say your goodbyes to friends who you are so thankful for meeting, you realize a few things: you’ve made friends and memories that will literally last a lifetime, you can’t wait to come back next summer, and when you do you will most assuredly bring a few more pairs of socks.

The Hard Part of Working at Camp

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

A popular question that a lot of prospective summer camp counselors ask recruiters is about the difficult aspects of the job. After hearing about how much fun they will have, about the amount of time they will get to spend outdoors, about all of the friends they will make, and how much money they can save, it all sounds a bit too good to be true. Candidates want to know, ‘So, what is the hard part?’ It’s a good question because, while it’s true that a simple internet search will produce article upon article about all of the great aspects of working at a sleepaway camp, few highlight the difficult parts of the job. In the name of bucking the status quo, this blog is going to take a stab at it.

First, camp ends. That’s probably the hardest part. From an outsider’s perspective, a couple of months never seems like a long time, certainly not long enough to form any permanent bonds or attachments. What a lot of people fail to consider, because it’s just such a foreign concept to most people, is that those two months aren’t 9-5, 5 days per week months. They’re 24/7 months—including meal times. That’s roughly 1,344 hours of constant interaction with campers and co-workers compared to the 320 hours those people who just do that daytime thing get. A little basic math establishes that’s roughly eight months of regular work time crammed into two. Eight months is the better part of a year and plenty of time to get pretty attached to new friends as well as campers. That’s why tears are usually inevitable when it comes time to say goodbye. Goodbye is always hard. But it’s even harder when you know that you may never have the opportunity to see some of the people with whom you’ve just spent the equivalent of eight months of your life again.

Second, you have to be comfortable around children. This sounds like a no brainer, but if you’re used to spending most of your time around adults, spending most of your time around children requires a bit of an adjustment. It goes without saying that interacting with children requires a filter of sorts. Obviously, you don’t share everything with children that you would with other adults. Interacting with children also requires a great deal of discretion. They’re looking at you for answers. Not only knowing what answers to give but when to give them is important. Knowing when it’s not your place to answer but to escalate the issue is even more important. Also, successful interaction with children is all in the presentation. You have to be a good salesperson to a certain extent. Before signing up to work at summer camp, think about the fact that convincing at least one camper to do something he or she does not want to do and to have fun while doing it is likely going to be a daily occurrence. If you’re a person who is quick to lose patience, summer camp may not be the right fit for you.

Third, stepping outside of your comfort zone is difficult. Think about it. When you’re feeling like pizza, do you pick up the telephone and call a different restaurant to order each time or do you call that place that you know makes a killer pie? There is nothing wrong with comfort. It certainly makes life (and decisions) easier. But leaving friends and family and going to a completely foreign environment to live and work for two months is definitely taking a giant step out of the comfort zone for most people. A lot of first year staff members arrive at camp thinking they’re prepared…and then reality sets in. Just accept that you will feel disoriented for a few days and definitely out of your comfort zone, which is hard. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that stepping out of your comfort zone to work at camp is one of the best hardest things you will ever do.

Finally, working at camp is exhausting. Seriously. You need some serious stamina—both mental and physical–to make itthrough the summer. The days are long. The sleep is short. You will likely be given one day off per week, on which you will still find yourself spending time with the same people with whom you’ve been working for the past six days and with whom you will work for the next six days. Obviously, if you’re a person who values a lot of alone time, you might find working at camp a bit hard.

There you have it. The hard part. The fine print. The ‘What’s the catch?’ If you’ve read all of that and are ready to take on a bit of difficulty in exchange for a whole lot of fun, then a summer at camp just may be the right fit for you.