Most people will tell you that growing up means having less time to play. Summer vacations for kids? Nothing but fun! Summer vacations for grown ups? “Booooring!”
…Well, here’s a secret: summer doesn’t have to be totally boring when you get too old for summer camp. All you have to do is become a camp counselor — problem solved! (Not to mention your Mom will be happy, since you’re “technically” getting a job!”
If you love camp and you’re worried about getting too old to go, don’t worry. Taking on the responsibility of a summer camp counselor is both rewarding and super fun!
Transitioning from summer camper to summer camp counselor is probably easier than you think.
Building dependability and good leadership skills are already a huge part of the activities and games that campers participate in every year. For former summer campers, all the leadership skills that make a good counselor are already there — it’s just a question of stepping up to the plate and trying on a different hat this summer!
Leadership is “hard-wired” into the activities at Camp Weequahic; oftentimes, campers don’t even realize they’re building leadership skills. Camping, team sports, and problem-solving games all feels like “fun in the sun.” programs are usually adventure based and allow you to explore your budding leadership style through hands-on activities.
If you’ve ever wondered why the ropes course and team sports get just a little more challenging every year at camp, that’s why. Just like life, camp gets a little more complex every year. Luckily, with harder work comes bigger rewards. Few jobs are quite as fun and satisfying as that of a summer camp counselor!
Responsibility and freedom
For college students, there’s no way around it; summer jobs and internships can be a drag. Camp is different from a regular job; perhaps the only summer job in the world that requires so much time playing games!
While counselors have plenty of responsibilities when it comes to their campers, counselors who have been campers themselves have a special place in their heart for the relaxation that camp offers. Digital detox is worth its weight in gold — I mean, can you imagine if you were in summer classes right now?!
Whether they’re a veteran camper or excited newcomer, every single counselor at Camp Weequahic goes through intensive training and team-building activities before the first group of campers arrives.
Counselor training is where former campers really shine — because they already know what a magical experience they’re in for, and have all the traditional camp songs down by heart!
Most of all, former campers excel as counselors because they remember what it was like to be a camper themselves, helping them understand the value they offer to their own campers as role models. Veteran campers know that fun and games is serious business, and that all the planning and training is worth it to make sure the summer goes off without a hitch!
Summer camp is an incredible chance to spend time among your peers, gain independence, and learn about yourself.
Whether you decide to become a bunk specialist, or work in a specialty programing at your camp, you will surely develop important life skills that will help you become a responsible adult — not to mention a super fun role model for generations of Camp Weequahic campers!
Remember, growing up doesn’t have to mean letting go of that summer camp spirit!
I was nervous and excited to send my son Connor to Camp Weequahic this year. Connor’s best friend attended the camp the summer before and could not stop raving about it. So after plenty of research and discussions, we decided to let Connor spend the summer away. I won’t lie, my “mommy heart” broke a little when he practically jumped out of the car at drop off and didn’t look back, but I was pretty sure we were making the right decision. Last week, when we picked him up, I was 100% sure we had made the right decision. The excited, smiley kid who jumped into our backseat was….different.
I couldn’t pin point many differences right away, except for the excitement in his eyes and voice when he talked about all of his new friends and cracked himself up remembering inside jokes and hilarious conversations with his new buddies. One of the main things I noticed when we got home was how helpful he had become. Without me asking, he would make his bed, take his plates to the sink, offer to bring in the groceries or even simply ask if he could get us anything from the kitchen since he was going that way. I noticed a new sense of thoughtfulness when he came back. Not that he was heartless before by any means, but I definitely noticed a change in his willingness to help others and think of others before himself. As the days passed, my heart exploded with joy to see him excited to email, chat and FaceTime all of his new friends. He went to camp a little reserved, and came back social and confident. I loved seeing him interact with his peers, I loved seeing how he was truly listening to what others had to say, and how he felt confident contributing to the conversation.
Just today, he told me he was going to try out for soccer tryouts at school, a sport he had never played before camp. He said he was encouraged to try it at camp and played it almost every day while he was there. As a mom, I am blown away at what positive changes have come from sending my son to camp. I knew he would make friends, try a new activity or two, and learn to live both independently and with a group, but I had no idea about the social skills, character development, relational growth, and boost in confidence that spending just a few weeks away could create.
Any parent that is even thinking about sending their kid to camp should stop thinking right now and sign them up. Not only will you enjoy a few kid-free weeks of relaxation, but when your kid comes home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at everything they’ve learned, and more importantly, who they’ve become.
Camp Weequahic changed my son for the better, and we are both looking forward to the growth and changes that will happen next summer at camp!
So what makes a great summer camp experience for your child? Awesome friends, a ton of fun activities and great memories, but most of all an amazing group of staff members. The counselors we hand pick to join our staff are really what makes the camp experience that much better for campers. But what draws counselors in to the Weequahic family? Let’s ask some of our new and returning staff members to find out!
Camp: “Sidney, this is your second summer. It’s great to have you back! What brought you back to CW?”
Sidney (Junior Girls): “I had an incredible all around experience last summer, so I had to come back for another. I was also really excited to see returning staff who have become some of my best friends. And, of course, I can’t forget the awesome campers here!”
Camp: “We are so happy to hear that you had such a great time. Tell us what your favorite part of this experience has been?”
Sidney: “I would have to say watching and getting to know the kids and staff has been an incredible experience. Forming the awesome relationships that make up the Weequahic family has been great too.”
Camp: “And what have you learned this summer?”
Sidney: “I’ve learned a lot being here; especially patience, how to work well with many different types of people, leadership, and how much the little things truly matter.”
Camp: “I would have to agree completely with that statement. One last question for you. What will you miss the most when you leave?”
Sidney: “I will miss waking up every morning and being here at camp with this Weequahic family. This camp truly is a home away from home and it’s because of all of the wonderful people here.”
Camp: “Thank you so much Sidney! Jeremy, same questions for you. What brought you to camp?”
Jeremy (Senior Division): “Well this is my first summer here and what brought me to Weequahic was the fact that I really wanted to do something new, but also fun over the summer. After my first interview I knew this was where I wanted to be.”
Camp: “That’s great! And what has been your favorite part of this experience?”
Jeremy: “I would have to say interacting with all the campers. No two kids are alike, even siblings! You have to approach each one differently which I believe allowed me to grow as a person.”
Camp: “Wow, that’s amazing Jeremy. What have you learned from being here?”
Jeremy: “I’ve learned that attitude is everything. I came into this with an open mind and a positive attitude and it has been the best summer I’ve had in a long time.”
Camp: “We are so happy to hear that you have enjoyed your time here! Tell us what you will miss most when you leave?”
Jeremy: “I’ll definitely miss the campers and my fellow counselors. They are irreplaceable. I’ll miss my co-co’s because they have gone through this camp experience with me from start to finish and I wouldn’t trade a single one. I’ve built so many great relationships with the campers and their genuine happiness and joy for life gives me energy each day. The first few days without seeing their smiles or hearing their laughs will be pretty tough.”
Camp: “Thank you so much for sharing that with us!”
On behalf of all the counselors and staff members here at Weequahic, we would like to say thank you. Thank you for sending your kids have one of the best experiences of their lives here with us. Thank you for giving all of us a chance to be mentors to your children. We have all learned so much from every camper hear and have truly grown to admire the wonderful people they are growing up to be. It has been an amazing and memorable summer that we will always remember and we wish only the very best to each and every member of the Weequahic family this upcoming year.
When we asked a teacher in Florida what his ideal student looks like, he said “Someone who is respectful, creative and focused.” When we asked a teacher in New Jersey she said “Someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions, who wants to learn and who tries their hardest,” and when we asked a teacher from Pennsylvania, she said “Someone who has great time management skills, is a leader and is responsible.” What we learned from talking to these teachers is that all across the country, teachers enjoy having responsible, respectful and creative students in their classrooms. And whattaya know… Camp Weequahic helps students develop all of these skills, and so much more. It is our theory, that when teachers ask students what they did over the summer, they’re not just asking because it’s the standard “welcome back to school question,” but because they are secretly trying to decipher which students spent their summer growing, learning and improving at summer camp, and how many spent all summer playing video games. The bottom line: Teachers love students who spend their summers at summer camp.
Spending the summer at camp turns followers into leaders, turns shyness into confidence, and turns laziness into responsibility. Summer camp teaches campers how to work well with others, how to think critically and how to solve problems. It allows students to try new things, ask questions and be vulnerable in order to improve themselves. It teaches time management, respect for peers and authority, and organization. The list goes on and on, but every single day campers are learning valuable life skills that easily transfer over to every aspect of their lives. They think they’re just playing football with their friends, but at the same time they are learning how to communicate with others, how to be a good sport and the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. When they make real connections with people they’d usually never talk to, they are learning to ignore stereotypes and appreciate diversity. Summer camp is day after day of life lessons, disguised as swimming, playing, singing, dancing, biking, hiking and exploring.
Teachers look for leaders in the classroom, someone who can follow instructions and encourage their peers to do the same. It is with these students that teacher form trusting relationships, which can work in the students benefit all year long. These leaders are built at summer camp, and their skills aren’t just confined to the campground or the school campus, they become leaders in every aspect of their life.
Parents can be confident that their child will leave camp a better version of themselves. These students, who enter the new school year with a strong sense of identity, work ethic and high self-esteem, will be an important contributor to their teachers and classmates. This will also help them strive as individuals in the classroom and help them improve their academic performance.
If you were to ask a teacher what they REALLY wanted in an ideal student, most of them would say “Anyone who spent the summer at camp!”
According to statistics, there are an estimated 1.2 million camp staff in the United States, and the numbers continue to grow steadily. Now, you might think – “why should I get a camp job over an internship?” Well, working at a camp gives you the opportunity to earn more than just cash. Internships are all about gaining skills and that’s exactly what working at a camp provides, but the question here is that how working at a camp is better than an internship?
The biggest reason why it is better is because working in a camp helps you develop skills that will not only build your resume, but also last you a long time to come. You have the opportunity to lead from the front and solve problems, in addition to fulfilling your responsibilities with utmost sincerity. A camp simply offers real-life experiences that cannot be learnt behind an office desk.
Benefits of Working at a Camp
There are many benefits you can gain by working at a camp. Below we have listed some of the most common:
You develop better self-understanding
You enhance personal growth
You master problem-solving skills
Have positive and significant influence in the lives of children
You expand/develop a network of peer relations.
How is Working at a Camp Better than an Internship?
Here are a few convincing reasons you should consider working at a camp:
It Builds Character Along with Your Resume
If you do not have character, your resume is pretty much useless. If you make a comparison, you will notice that most interns count the minutes until they are finally done with work, and on the other hand, camp counselors and camp staff dedicate their summers. So, why do they do it? That’s simply because they enjoy what they do. When you work at a camp, you learn to dedicate your time for things besides yourself, as you have the opportunity to deal with adults, kids and other counselors.
It’s Not Only about the Money
When you work at a camp, you not only show up every morning because you are getting good money. You show up because your job involves spreading smiles and happiness. You are not confined to an undersized desk, relentlessly waiting for payday.
You Make Kids Smile Instead of Customers
It’s not uncommon to come across interns pretending to be extra nice, so that they can make a sale. A camp job, however, revolves around campers and making them happy. Getting an authentic laugh or smile out of a camper is something more pleasing and enjoyable than selling a particular product to a random guy.
You Learn to Be Selfless Not Selfish
While interns spend most of their time pretending to be busy or surfing the web, every minute you spend in camp is devoted to the campers. Each minute of your time is spent for others, not just for yourself. After all, have you ever seen an intern worrying about the progress of their company they work for, as much as they do for themselves?
So, if you have been considering a job, why not go for it, as you will gain experience and skills that will definitely be of use to you in the future.
Do you know what makes Camp Weequahic so special besides our campers? Our staff. Camp Weequahic takes great pride in the amazing staff we assemble each summer and the enthusiasm that they bring to camp. Orientation for the Summer 2014 staff begins tomorrow, and we can are confident that this is one of the most awesome groups of people we have ever assembled. Campers, it’s going to be an incredible summer!
To insure that our staff is one of the best, we have them arrive early at camp so that we can spend some time teaching them everything they need to know about Camp Weequahic and you (our campers) prior to your arrival to insure that they’re ready to help you have the best summer ever from the moment you step onto campus.
We, at Camp Weequahic, believe that every summer should be even better than the last, and our staff orientation is a critical part of that philosophy. Amongst the staff of 2014 will be faces that we know you are counting down the days to see as well as some new ones who we know you’re going love. Our 2014 staff members have expressed many times over how excited they are about spending the summer at Camp Weequahic working with our campers. The only thing missing is you! We’ll ALL be ready and waiting for your arrival in just 9 more days.
Whether you’re a new or returning staff member who is preparing to work at camp this summer, the decibel level of those first few days at camp are always a bit above what you anticipate. Of course, we hear noise every day. But camp noise is different than other noise. A camp staff member once relayed a memory of her first summer at camp. She recalled the shock of the day the campers arrived. ‘It was suddenly very loud,’ she said. ‘They don’t prepare you for that at orientation. Then again, there is probably no way they could.’ She is right. There is no way to describe what several hundred excited children who have been waiting for a moment for ten months sounds like. It’s certainly not noise pollution, though. It much more closely resembles environmentally friendly noise. It’s the noise of excitement, happiness and anticipation.
A strange phenomenon happens with environmentally friendly noise. You not only expect it, but anticipate hearing it every day. You don’t even realize how much you look forward to camp noise until the end of camp. When the buses pull away on the last day of camp, the quietness that settles over the campus is one of the saddest moments of the summer. You realize the kids are gone, and the summer really is over. Even after you return home, you find yourself wishing to hear the sounds that defined your summer–bugle calls to signal daily activities, constant cheering and laughter, mealtimes with hundreds of other people. Everyday noise just seems like noise pollution.
Summer camp employment is synonymous with “camp counselor” in most people’s minds. But there are a lot of non-counselor” positions at camp. If you’re interested in working at summer camp but don’t really think the role of camp counselor would be best for you, consider one of these alternatives:
Program/Activity Head: Are you or have you ever been a professional or college level athlete or coach? If so, and you’re interested in working at summer camp, then the Program/Activity Head role might be a perfect fit for you. Program/Activity Heads oversee a sport or activity at camp. They typically have a staff of counselor specialists who are also active in the sport or activity to assist with instruction and coaching. Program/Activity Heads plan daily activities, oversee instruction and assign campers to teams for intra and inter camp league play. There are also a handful of Program/Activity Head roles at camp for those who are not athletic but have some sort of niche expertise in areas like arts & crafts, music, dance, theater, cooking, science and communications.
Programming Staff: If you have a knack for scheduling, consider applying to work as part of a camp programming team. The camp programming staff is responsible for the daily camper and staff schedules. When creating schedules, they must keep in mind things like facility availability, staffing ratios and camper frequencies.
Special Events Staff: The special events staff at summer camp are responsible for all events that take place outside of the regular daily special. This is typically all evening activities and special days as well as (on that rare occasion) a rainy day. It helps if you have some sort of technical knowledge, such as connecting laptops to video screens, rigging microphones and operating (sometimes complicated) sound systems. But not everything you do as a special events staff member is hi-tech. You can also be charged with setting up a scavenger hunt, gathering and placing materials for game night or baking night, or a host of other things. The imagination is the limit. If you love fun and event planning and are detail oriented, special events might be the area of camp for you.
Photography/Videography: Camp photographer and videographer roles are highly specialized and extremely critical roles at camp. Every day, camp photographers take hundreds of photographs of daily activities and film many of the activities as well. If you’re a professional in either of these areas and are interested in working at summer camp, chances are there is a camp looking for you.
Camp Nurse: Summer camps maintain health centers and employ licensed nurses to dispense medication, clean up those inevitable scratches and cuts, and treat campers and staff who become ill during the summer. For those rare more severe injuries that sometimes occur, nurses also may be asked to accompany campers or staff to local hospitals or doctors’ offices.
Office Staff: If you prefer behind the scenes desk work and answering phone calls, then consider applying for a camp office staff job. Typically, office staff answer phone calls, sort mail, greet visitors, manage camper phone calls, prepare documents or mailings, and complete other administrative tasks.
Maintenance Staff: If you’re a handyman (or woman) who’s good with a hammer, loves landscaping and cleaning, and prefers being outdoors to inside, consider applying to work as a member of the maintenance team. Camp maintenance staff stay busy all summer long maintaining summer camp campuses, and no two days as a camp maintenance staff member are alike.
Kitchen Staff: Working in the camp kitchen is perfect for those who thrive in restaurant environments. If you’re a chef,caterer or member of a restaurant staff–or aspire to be one–then working in a summer camp kitchen is a fun alternative to restaurant work.
If any of these camp roles interest you, camps are hiring now. Many of the people who work in these role return year after year because they are a great way to integrate personal interests and specialized expertise with the fun and adventure of working at summer camp. Apply now and you just may find yourself returning year after year too.
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.
Summer camp staff who thought they were just heading off for a summer job a couple of months ago are surprised to find that transitioning from camp life back to “real” life requires a bit of adjustment. Two months doesn’t seem very long in the context of real life. Most people in real life get up in the morning, go to work or school and then come home. Their environment as well as the people and things in it change several times throughout the day. At camp, however, staff are surrounded by the same campers, the same co-workers, and the same bunk or cabin mates day and night. The environment is fixed. This is what many people love about working at summer camp, and it does have many advantages.
In the real world, two months isn’t a significant amount of time to form friendships or lifelong bonds. But sleepaway camp isn’t the “real” world. It’s very easy to make friends when one spends so many hours of each day surrounded by the same people. The absence of technology encourages interpersonal communication, which means one gets to know a lot about others in a very short amount of time—more than you ever thought. Most camp staff also never thought they’d get so attached to their campers in such a short period of time. But they did. They cried when they said goodbye to their campers and again when they said goodbye to their co-counselors, now friends.
But now that camp is over and it’s time to live in the real world again for the next ten months, staff members are just starting to realize how much camp fever they caught over the summer. They find themselves wandering aimlessly listening for PA announcements or bugle calls to signify what time of the day it is, where to go, what to do, and when to eat. They walk into a supermarket and wonder what they should buy because their meals have been planned for them all summer, and peruse the aisles amongst surroundings that feel slightly surreal. Then the reality that they’re not at camp anymore finally hits them. They’re campsick.
Camp sickness is a common post camp feeling for campers, but many people don’t realize that staff members get campsick too. They get teary eyed when they’re driving along in their cars and a song that was popular at camp during the summer plays on the radio. They follow the camp Facebook page and remember the fun all over again. They even wear their staff shirts on occasion. But maybe the most valuable thing that lives on after camp are the friendships that are formed there. Even for those staff members who can’t return to camp summer after summer, it’s a great feeling knowing that two months in the camp world was enough to form solid friendships with people from all over the globe. The camp world is small, but the “real” world feels much smaller too after one has worked at summer camp.