For those who have never worked at a summer camp before, there are many questions to ask and ideas to consider about life at a summer camp, but at Camp Weequahic, returning staff can put all worries to rest about what it is like to work at the most special summer camp this world has to offer.
For starters, working at a summer camp is all about helping kids grow and become better individuals and one of the most rewarding aspects of working at camp is the ability to watch all sorts of talented kids grow and master what they love. More often than not, the staff returns to see the campers they have helped, anticipating all the potential within them for another summer at camp.
Along with the campers, all the staff members look forward to spending another summer with friends they have met from all over the world. Camp Weequahic nurtures friendships not just for campers, but for staff as well, and Camp Weequahic is a place that allows people to strengthen friendships with people from Australia, South Africa, England and any place imaginable.
Because of all the people staff members are able to work with, Camp Weequahic is the most positive working environment, everyone is happy to spend another day of the summer with their co-counselors and campers. It never really feels like work because you always have that much fun wherever and whatever you’re doing at Camp Weequahic. With all these positive elements of working at Camp Weequahic, it’s no wonder so many staff members return each summer to once again feel the magic of Camp Weequahic, a place that is truly worth the ten for two.
Each summer, over two hundred men and women arrive at Camp Weequahic to prepare for an incredible experience. Hailing from literally around the world (17 countries and 22 US states at last count), these mostly college aged adults have chosen to spend their summer doing something different differently.
Let me explain….
What we do is pretty simple to explain: we run a residential summer camp for girls and boys ages 7 to 16.
How do we do it? That’s an easy but more involved conversation. The answer involves our structured-choice program for the kids, the way we interview, hire, and train our team, the great traditions and Evening Activities, the Dining Hall experience, what to do on trips off camp, and so much more.
We have a team of eight people who work for 10 months planning a 2 month party and then take another 10 days to get everyone else up to speed. It’s not rocket science but it’s pretty involved.
Why do we do it? Well… that’s the special answer. And, it’s the answer we delve into from the first moment of our 10-day staff orientation. It’s also the answer we finish with the night before the kids arrive. It’s the most important thing to clarify and embrace as it is at the core of everything we do.
What’s the answer, you ask? You’ll have to be a staff member to find out. But, I’ll give you a hint: it has a lot to do with creating an amazing experience for everyone we meet through gratitude, attitude and courage….
Getting Ready for Orientation
Team members should arrive with an ‘open for anything’ type attitude ready to be challenged and engaged. We put our newest team members into odd situations, fun situations, hard situations and everything in between.
We focus on the ‘why’, teach our expectations and policies, practice those in real world situations, and laugh a lot together. We help each staff member ‘sharpen their own saw’ and then work with everyone to create a community that is supportive, friendly, fun, safe, and adventurous.
What we are preparing for?
The kids! (And, frankly, each other!)
We have 450 campers from all over the US and larger world arriving at camp on June 24th. Two thirds will be heading home on July 15th and the next awesome batch of 250 kids arriving on July 17th.
We want our campers to be surrounded by people who will, first off, keep them safe both physically and emotionally and secondly, who are excited to show them how much fun can be enjoyed in our community.
The better a community we create with one another as a team, the better an experience we can provide to our campers, their families back home, and our team at camp.
Sure, it’s fun and it’s usually the most challenging job anyone has ever had. The more we work together and support one another, the easier and more fulfilling it becomes.
The End Result
Remember when I said our staff arrive ready to do something different differently? Spending your summer caring for, teaching, and leading young people changes our team members. It requires selfless action and that’s not something that gets celebrated a lot any more. That’s why it’s different.
Camp impacts our staff just as much as our kids. It opens up their world, shows them the enormous influence they can provide, and reinforces the notion that happiness comes from serving others.
What does ‘differently’ mean? That’s the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ that we’ll teach you at Weequahic. We can’t wait to show you! Let me be the first to welcome our Summer Staff of 2017. Travel safely to camp and get ready for AMAZING!
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!