If you’re a young adult and looking for work, you have plenty of options. You can choose part-time jobs with flexible schedules that allow you to attend college. You can also choose full-time work that doesn’t require an advanced degree. Or maybe you’ve recently graduated and are trying to decide what path to take. What about working with kids at a summer camp?
No matter your path, working at a summer camp is a rewarding, life-changing experience that can lead to a meaningful career.
Recruiters and employers look for people with a diversity of experience who work well with others. They want capable, skilled leadership gleaned from unique environments. Read more to find out how working at a summer camp can help you get that experience.
Strength of character
Working as a camp director, instructor or coach is definitely not a desk job! It’s a fun, active, and enriching way to spend the summer. It’s also for people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, work long hours and model ethical behavior for younger campers.
You can’t learn grit or a solid work ethic from a book. These are skills that come with practice. Find positions where you’re expected to act responsibly. Choose jobs where you’ll balance completing tasks and having to behave in a friendly manner.
Those are skills you learn working with children and your peers in summer camps.
No matter the theme, summer camps are a huge pull because they connect people. Parents might want their kids playing sports, learning how to code or gaining some healthy independence. But they also want their kids to be with other kids, having fun, and making friends.
Camp staff guide interactions between kids utilizing effective verbal and non-verbal communication.
Campers need help learning the importance of teamwork and cooperation. For instance, instructors and coaches show them how to decipher signals leading to healthy conflict resolution. They assist kids in how to work well with others. They also join forces with fellow staff members to solve problems when personalities and styles conflict under their watch.
Helping children get along and work together is an experience that provides value in every workplace.
Camp staff lead campers in a variety of ways. Whether your camp’s summer goal is an artistic performance, designing a video game, winning a soccer tournament or creating a robot, instructors and coaches help make it happen. They are cheerleaders, directors and managers all at once.
They lead by example, speak with authority, and bring out the best in everyone.
When campers and camp staff come together, they must interact effectively.
Camp instructors and coaches match up complementary personality types. They demonstrate networking skills while keeping parents/caregivers appropriately informed. Effective staff members keep everyone moving forward together.
If you’re working at a summer camp, throughout your day, keep track of challenges you encounter. What choices reflect a responsible, level-headed nature? How are you growing as you motivate children through the mental and physical challenges that camp provides?
How do you provide support to fellow instructors, coaches and directors?
What do you want your letters of recommendation to say?
These answers will shape how you handle future issues in either an academic or corporate environment.
Employers don’t want to hold your hand. On the contrary, they want someone who can work autonomously. At the same time, colleagues value new hires who can hit the ground running. A camp environment prepares you for this.
Camp instructors and coaches don’t need as much micromanaging. They’ve spent two and half months teaching children how to work together toward a common goal.
Camp instructors and coaches are responsible for anywhere between 8 -15 children. They pass background checks and require character references.
This isn’t true for young people working in other industries. Office internships don’t even require the level of responsibility that all members of camp staff are expected to deliver on an hourly basis every day.
Showing an attention to detail and staying organized are also a part of this skillset. Children have allergies, learning needs, and personality issues. All require your attention. Therefore, honing skills like multitasking and staying on top of things prepares you for any career.
When camp directors write letters of recommendation, prospective employers understand that camp staff are a cut above. If parents have placed their children’s safety in a candidate’s hands, they can clearly be trusted in an office environment.
Diversity and Flexibility
Every day at camp is an adventure.
Instructors and coaches must think on their feet when dealing with kids. Campers get anxious and worried, shy and withdrawn, sick and itchy. They are away from their regular routine while counselors are also dealing with parents, day-to-day issues and weather changes.
Those who can adjust as they go along are the most successful in the long run.
Thinking outside the box and pivoting when necessary are skills that get plenty of practice during camp counseling jobs.
Camp staff are in charge of children and a custodian to memories that will last a lifetime. This is fun – and serious.
That’s why staff members should keep a diary or journal. When they go through a challenging learning experience or a particularly joyful moment, they should write it down. Later, when interviewing for careers or grad school, sometimes ten years after these experiences have passed, they’ll want to remember these stories.
And the lessons learned.
These are the moments that, when properly framed and related during interviews and essay questions, will get a candidate hired or accepted. These lead to the next adventure.
Working at a summer camp, while challenging and hard work, is also fun. You are helping children on their way toward becoming fully realized adult human beings.
If you’re considering this path, you will make memories of your own. Developing connections with people who’ll matter to you long after the warm weather fades.
Be a part of that process. Find positions working at a summer camp today!