Three Myths about Summer Camp Jobs

Guest post by Katie Young

As spring starts the pressure to find a summer job increases. Many choose to work at a summer camp and have a wonderful experience. The following are three myths that hinder students from looking at summer camp opportunities, debunked.

Myth #1: I don’t have the skills to work at camp.

You need three things to work at camp: a positive attitude, willingness to work, and an ability to get along with (and like) children. And none of those require a four-year degree!

Camp counselor jobs are designed with low-experience, high-potential applicants in mind. Camps ask that potential counselors come ready to work hard, play hard, and stay positive. The camps provide their staff with on-the-job training which includes a time to set the ground rules, teach ways to handle common camp issues, and build a support network for when staff members encounter difficult issues. So as long as you come ready to work, play, and learn – and you like kids – you can work at camp!

BONUS: These trainings usually provide an opportunity to get First Aid/CPR/Lifeguard certifications for discounted rates, or for free. Otherwise you may be charged $155 or more for lifeguard training, so getting these certifications can be a huge hidden perk-and look good on a resume.

Myth #2: I won’t get the kind of experience I need to get a real-world job.

When the time comes to hand a resume to the recruiter, they won’t just be looking for your technical qualifications. Teamwork, supervisory experience and leadership experiences are all traits that are highly valued in the workplace. Guess where you can get all those skills! A summer at camp can do wonders for building “soft skills,” especially for freshmen or sophomores who are looking at career-related internships during their junior and senior years.

Don’t forget that not every job at a camp is that of a general counselor. Many require specific education or experience, and allow students to explore their specialty in a camp setting.

  • Want to go into business? Look for a job as a business or operations manager. These individuals run the camp office, which includes managing paperwork, contacting vendors, communicating with clients, and reporting receipts.
  • Majors in the sciences, engineering, fine arts, or technology should look for a related program specialist position. Every year, programs offered by camps are increasing in diversity and number. Examples of specializations include crafts, dance, robotics, ecology, pottery, music, engineering, space, history, and natural sciences.
  • Someone interested in health might look for a health care supervisor position. Some camps will hire experienced college students with health-related majors to fill the ‘camp nurse’ role.
  • Those in HTM, or interested in the foodservice industry, can look for kitchen staff positions. These range in scope and level of responsibility, and could be a good entry position for someone interested in hotel or retreat food service.

Myth #3: I can’t afford it.

If money is the concern, take this into consideration: Camps offer room and board in addition to the weekly paycheck. This means a summer without rent, utilities, or food bills. (Definitely look into subleasing your apartment if applicable.)  Camp is an excellent place to build a nest egg for the coming school year.

Need time for a summer class for credit? Ask your adviser if your camp job can be used as an internship or for credit. Another option is to ask a potential director their feelings on counselors taking online courses while at camp.  This is a very common occurrence, and directors will be honest about their feelings on the topic.

Camp is more than your usual summer job. It is an experience, a way to give back, and a job. I personally have worked at camp for six years now, and have decided to make it my life career. The chance to be a true leader, respected for ability rather than experience or position, is a wonderful thing. Most of all, it is wonderful to be paid for doing something I love.

What’s the best part about camp?  The moment when I’m working with my campers, and suddenly everything clicks.  When they leave camp, you know that they are going to be a little bit more confident, or outgoing, or self-assured, and that YOU helped get them there! This is powerful stuff, and the benefits described above are all bonuses on top of that.

So, give camp a chance!

Come learn more about summer camp as a job!

Information Session (gain insights on what to expect at the fair)
Wednesday, February 6th in BRNG 1254, 6:30-7:30pm

Summer Camp Job Fair
February 7th, PMU South Ballroom, 11am-3pm

Katie is a senior in the College of Technology.  She has spent several summers as a camper, as a camp student staff member and is now excited about beginning her career.  Gain insights from Katie, as well as other camp representatives at the information session and the Summer Camp Job Fair.

2013SummerCampFairFlyer

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6 responses to “Three Myths about Summer Camp Jobs

  1. Reblogged this on Learn English & Discover Canada Summer Camp and commented:
    Rachel Bayless and Katie Young have written an excellent article on the benefits of working for a Summer Camp. They provide many key points detailing the experiences and leadership skills you can develop, as well as provide insight into the different roles working a camp can provide.

  2. Very helpful article. Thank you! What about international students? Are summer camp internships available to us?

    • Isa,
      Yes, these summer jobs are available to International students as well. However you just want to be sure to involve ISS as you consider any job opportunities so that you do not jeopardize your visa status.

  3. This is a great article, Rachel! I would definitely recommend a summer working at camp for anyone interested in building a well-rounded resume. At iD Tech, our summer staff gain valuable experience and all of the skills you mention above. Additionally, our staff will strengthen their tech skills and have the chance to network with many others in their field of study. As a result of these benefits, many of our summer staff have gone on to work at top tech companies.

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