Posts Tagged ‘camp job’

Be Better

Posted Saturday, March 8th, 2014 by

The Sochi Olympics took place last month, and even though the athletes competed on snow and ice, the games were surprisingly reminiscent of summer camp, particularly from a staff perspective. Many athletes were there for the first time. Some, however, were competing in their second, third, or even fifth Olympic games. Each summer at camp, likewise, attracts many fresh staff faces – eager but not quite sure what to expect – and returning staff who are back to lead the way and improve upon their past performances, even if those performances were already gold medal caliber. Oddly, a lot of camp blogs and articles address the qualities and expectations of new camp staff, but few address those of returners. How do staff approach camp if it is their second, third, fifth, or even tenth summer? The answer most veteran camp staff provide is that they intend to be better. Even great summers, in retrospect, have room for improvement. Like campers, returning staff always arrive with an agenda and, like athletes, always strive for that perfect 10 summer. Every summer is an Olympic year for camp staff.

Many returners actually begin goal setting for the following summer before the current summer ends. Some simply visualize areas in which they could be better while others actually comprise a physical list. Veteran staff members learn, over the course of several summers, that there is a maturation process to working at camp. Because camp tends to be such a microcosmic environment in which staff wear many hats, it’s almost impossible not to develop multiple perspectives of camp and how it can be made even better. Like athletes, veteran camp staff know that there is always room for improvement. Even the smallest of adjustments can elevate a summer from excellent to outstanding. In part, that is what draws returning staff members back year after year.

Regardless of whether each summer begins with a written or mental list of goals, it ends the same for all returning staff – with careful evaluation of their own performance. The desire to be better is a unique quality of returning camp staff, and a quality that makes them very appealing as job candidates. The enthusiasm of happy campers is infectious. Mediocrity is simply not an option when making campers happy. Returning camp staff are so willing to dedicate themselves to the task of creating gold medal summers that they come back year after year, physically and mentally ready to take on old challenges as well as new ones. At camp,  they eat, breathe, sleep and live what they’ve been envisioning since the end of the previous summer in their quest to simply be better at something they love.

Campsick Camp Staff

Posted Monday, August 12th, 2013 by

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.

Profile of a Camp Counselor

Posted Saturday, January 26th, 2013 by

So, you want to be a Camp Counselor?

So you are thinking about being a camp counselor for a summer?  Do you want to spend a summer working in a stunning setting in the mountains with fresh air and beautiful weather and travel to new parts of the world?  Are you looking to expand on your experience working with children or coaching?  Do you want the ability to meet people from all over the world and make everlasting friendships?   Do you want to make a difference in someone’s life?

Being a camp counselor is one of the hardest jobs that you will love.  The relationships you create and the impact you make with campers and staff members will give you memories and friends that can last a lifetime.

The job of camp counselor is very challenging and demanding (along with being a lot of fun!)  While working as a camp counselor you are constantly engrossed with the campers’ experience. You rarely get a chance to check facebook, you barely get a chance to check your phone, and you have kids full of energy begging for you to play cards, play games or shoot hoops with them.  On top of that, you live and sleep in the same room as these campers.

But why do it? The reward of being a camp counselor stays with you for the rest of your life.   Helping a camper shoot his or her first bull’s-eye in archery, having a camper conquer his or her fear of heights on the high ropes course, help teach a camper how to start his or her own lanyard knot only to hear they were able to do it on their own.  It is the little things that as young adults and adults we take for granted.  It is the ability to create fun and lasting memories.

To be a successful camp counselor in any camp environment, you have to be a mature goofball. When you come to work at a summer camp, you need to check your ego at the front gate.  You have to be able to laugh at yourself and allow others to laugh with you.  It shows the campers and other staff members that you are here to have fun and nothing is going to stop you, but you are going to do it in a mature and safe manner.  You have to be able to create games on the fly, play these crazy games and enjoy them like it is best game you have ever played. Finally, you have to be able to put the camper first, no matter how quickly they can push your buttons (which may happen.)

One of the best qualities a great counselor has is being able to listen.  Listen to what your camper has to say; whether it is talking about their arts and crafts activity, of their pets from home, or their crazy stories about family vacations.  If you actually listen to the campers, they will learn to respect you as a counselor and a person.

The one quality we always see in the great counselors we have worked with is their ability to put the camper before him or herself; no matter the issue, no matter the time, no matter how tired you might be.  What happens when a camper has a problem? The GOOD counselor makes sure someone is there to resolve the issue and leaves…  The GREAT counselor sits with that camper until he or she is feeling better again, even if that means leaving late on your night off, and checks in with them over the next couple days.

The difference of being a good counselor, to a great counselor, can also have an impact on whether the campers have just a good summer, or the best summer ever.

The best summer ever starts with you.  When a camper goes home for the summer and begins to tell his or her parents about the great summer they had, YOUR NAME will be said within the first ten words in that child’s story of his or her summer.

You have an opportunity as a summer camp counselor to make a difference in child’s life.  Whether it is life skills, social skills, or just having fun, you have the option to create that for the camper.

Think about a time in your life when someone helped you achieve something you are proud of.  You get a chance to be that person.  That is why we are here.  The work is demanding; that is why being a camp counselor is one of the hardest jobs that you will love.  With hard work comes great reward, and there is not better reward than a happy child.  It is an experience you will never forget.

A Summer Full of Adventure

Posted Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 by

Few people think of finding a summer job until memories of days spent bundled in scarves, coats, and gloves as they attempt to maneuver roadways and college campuses after the latest snowfall have faded almost completely.  However, whether 2011 is the first time you’re considering a summer camp position or you’re a seasoned veteran, now is exactly the time to start the process of securing summer employment, if you haven’t already done so.  Many camps attend campus recruiting fairs in order to assemble the perfect staff.  So why should you attend one of these fairs or complete an online application now?  To begin with, a camp job is definitely fun, but also a lot of work…so be prepared! Where else can you get paid to play all day while building valuable job skills? Whether you work in a specific area and focus on a sport, activity or hobby you love or you work as a counselor who travels from activity to activity with campers, your day is full of exciting challenges and a probably even a few surprises, both of which will develop your problem-solving, critical thinking, and negotiation skills.

If you like working with children and aspire to a career in a field such as education, sports training, psychology or sociology, then you already have another reason to work at a camp.  Camp is an excellent place to gain valuable experience and is impressive on a resume.  Although camp seems lighthearted–and it is in many ways–working at camp requires a lot of responsibility, flexibility, and adaptability, all of which are very valuable characteristics sought by employers.   Each day guarantees new challenges, many of them unexpected.  Summer camp is often organized chaos.  Yes, there is always a plan in place, but the unexpected is also inevitable.  While this may seem scary the first couple days, it also brings an excitement and satisfaction that delivering pizzas or serving food (or even working at an investment bank)  never could.  Working at camp also requires a lot of communication and interpersonal interaction, two more transferable skills that are highly valued by employers.  At camp, you must effectively co-exist with your campers, co-counselors, and other staff members to be successful.   You will also be able to tell future employers that you worked with people from all over the world and from many different socio-economic backgrounds.  That you’ve overcome cultural, language, and social obstacles with others tells recruiters that diversity is not something you fear, but rather embrace.

Working at summer camp can also be very healthy for your bank account.  You won’t become Donald Trump spending your summers at camp. However; camps provide housing and food in addition to a salary. It’s possible to live virtually expense-free for a couple of months.  Many summer camp counselors take home all or most of their salaries at the end of the summer.

Finally, you will form lifelong friendships at camp.  You may arrive alone and nervous in June, but you will leave in August with literally hundreds of friends from all over the world.  Two months may not seem like a long time, but when one lives and works in close proximity with co-workers, it’s more than sufficient to form bonds that ordinarily would take years.  There are always  tears on the last day of camp, not only when saying goodbye to your campers, who will have secured a special place in your heart forever, but to co-workers—the ones you know you will see again as well as the ones you know you will not.  Regardless, the world will seem like a much smaller place to you.

Though it may seem early to begin planning such a special adventure with so many possibilities, building a successful camp staff not only requires individuals who possess all of the qualities previously mentioned, it requires finding the right mix of personalities and talents.  Such an endeavor, of course, takes time.  Camp recruiters review literally thousands of applications each year and speak with hundreds of candidates to find those who are the best fit for their camp’s atmosphere, philosophy and program.  Starting your job search while the ground is still white and the tree branches still bare provides you with the advantage of a larger pool of positions from which to choose.  By April, most camps have nearly completed their hiring and only difficult to fill or highly specialized roles remain.

So, after a winter of wading through piles of snow, are you ready for a summer full of adventure?

Camp Counselor=Great preparation for the future!

Posted Friday, January 21st, 2011 by

What do camp counselors learn at camp that helps them later in life? The specific answers to that question are varied, but one thing remains constant—camp has a big impact on individual lives long after campers grow out of their camping and counselor years. Recently ReadyMade magazine featured Kelly Stoetzel in its regular series about awesome jobs. Kelly works for TED, a nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading” and spends her days interacting with fascinating people from around the world who work to make things better. What was her first job? Camp counselor! And what does she list as her “Best Job”? Camp counselor!

Kelly learned that “being a camp counselor is all about leading a group of people into enthusiasm,” and that continues to be important in her job today. Just as campers and staff still gather each summer—sometimes for the first time and sometimes after waiting all year just to come back—Kelly went to camp! There, learning, personal growth, fun and friendship blossomed during intense times and life-long skills and ideas were forged. Camp operates as a microcosm of experiences that mirror real-life situations as everyone negotiates friendships and different personalities, tries new things and finds their unique role in the group. If you’ve been a camper or a counselor, you know what I’m talking about. You also know that facilitating fun and teamwork takes creativity and enthusiasm. (If you’re thinking about being a counselor, camp is an incredible way to learn skills and prepare for future jobs!)

One counselor puts it this way, “Many aspects of camp allowed counselors to forget life outside of camp and just live in the present focusing on how to facilitate fun in the moment. I don’t think you get to do that as frequently in other life experiences, or at least you are not encouraged to do it as frequently.” She goes on to state that these skills are important in any profession and that camp administrators also served as references for her later jobs. For this counselor, camp led to asking questions about larger social structures at work in the world which led to going to graduate school and a career as a professor!

Another famous camper, Disney’s Michael Eisner, credits his many happy years at camp for teaching him to be honest, loyal and “willing to help the other fellow.” He’s quoted as saying, “Working in business can be another canoe trip!” You can read more about the impact camp had on Eisner’s life and career in his book Camp where he shares his memories and multiple lessons learned. If you’re a social and outgoing person and drawn to the opportunity to lead with enthusiasm, camp counselor could be the summer job for you–check out the AFSC website for more information.

Do you already have “camp counselor” on your resume? How has that experience contributed to your life or career?

Deborah-Eve

Thanks for the image kirvanvlandren.

Camp Counselor 101

Posted Thursday, January 6th, 2011 by

Recently some camp counselors shared what they’ve learned on the job and I’d like to highlight two important concepts they talked about. Think of this as your basic introduction to camp counselor skills and also how important professional development is to your overall future:

1. Time management

High school students often focus on preparing for college by earning acceptable grades and participating in additional activities. While these strategies are essential to the process, students too often rely on parents/care givers for structure and reminders and fail to understand that managing time is one of the most important skill required for college success. Across the United States, students with ability and good intentions often struggle in college, just because they have not learned to schedule assignments, work, reading and most importantly the time they spend having fun or relaxing.

In contrast, one past camp counselor explains, “time management is crucial at camp,” and even if you are familiar with regimented schedules, “a camp counselor is responsible for keeping others in line with the daily schedule.” So the job requires not only learning to manage time personally, but also for large groups and that becomes a skill counselors develop. Camp counselors also “learn to be disciplinarians in strategic ways.” These skills are essential and applicable to keeping an undergraduate student motivated to complete assignments and participate in college activities. So, since professional experience at camp requires “all counselors to be responsible,” and to “learn to be accountable for personal actions as well as those of others,” camp counselors benefit in multiple ways.

Working as a camp counselor is also the perfect component to rounding out a year of personal and professional growth by managing the time between semesters! As students mature and move into the realm of adulthood, they often have to face the reality that they are not completely self sufficient.

2. Independence and freedom

Once a young adult goes to college, no matter how much they miss home or home cooking, they are changed forever! One past camp counselor puts it this way, “After my first undergraduate winter break back home I decided I didn’t want to return home for three months during summer. College gave me independence/freedom from parental supervision, and I wanted to continue the experience through summer employment.”

So, as you can see, being a camp counselor is a great fit for young adults who expect to do more than the minimum. Since campers often want to prolong their time at summer camp, they can also take it to the next level as counselors. After repeat summers a few even go on to fill additional camp staff positions before making their mark in other careers!

What’s your plan for personal growth next summer? Do you see “camp counselor” in your future?

Deborah-Eve

Thanks for the image Michel Filion.

How to fire up your resume outside of class!

Posted Monday, January 3rd, 2011 by

According to American Camp Association (ACA) CEO Peg Smith, approximately 1.2 million camp staff make summer camp happen each year. Camp counselors are a large group in that staggering number and many are also college students who not only earn money for school but also professional experience, resume-building skills and learn a lot about themselves!

Smith says that summer camp provides a unique learning experience for college students since “a camp job offers real life experiences and a hands-on education that simply cannot be found in a classroom.” If you’re looking for a way to earn money and also develop and grow as a person, summer camp is a place where children and adults come together to form a unique community. It’s a job that you can take seriously and share what you know—but also learn—from staff and campers.

Here are some benefits you can expect from the job:

  1. No research then writing arguments here! You’ll have to master real-life, problem-solving skills in the moment, like how to get your campers to clean up and go to activities on time.
  2. You’ll be a role model and surrogate parent for children who grow to love and respect you while you have a significant and positive influence in their lives.
  3. As you care for and encourage others, you’ll develop greater self-understanding. You’re moving into adulthood and it shows in the way you treat others and make choices for yourself!
  4. Professional development and training are required—no taking a back seat here. Hone your leadership and people skills.
  5. You’ve heard about “networking,” and this is where it starts—you’ll develop and expand a network of peer relations that can last a lifetime.

Do you want to know more? Find out about camp counselor opportunities at Camp Weequahic and how you can combine earning money for college, professional and personal development and yes, a little camp fun!

Deborah-Eve