With the end of another summer and already transitioning into the winter season of 2016, camps will begin looking to the next summer with making improvements, adding or changing what they currently offer, and for some, submitting applications to be counselors or higher staff at summer camps. Counselors, obviously, are an important facet to the function of a camp and adding to the character that makes up a camp’s summer. I have
often said that camps are very similar to each other in what is offered in the form of activities and how things are done in a schedule, but what makes the true difference are the people that working at the camp in any particular summer.
That is what makes each summer so different despite so many points remaining the same from year to year. With how important the counselor position is to summer camps, though, it may be surprising to learn that the position is not as sought after as it once was. Applications, as the years have gone on, have dwindled. Many opportunities arise for college age adults causing many decisions for how people spend their summers. For many, the thought of future prospects and job offers is a huge focus, but I would like to spend this blog post explaining why being a summer camp counselor is still an important position and why it is still one that young adults should consider pursuing.
A) Building Character and Work Ethic
A camp counselor position is a challenging job, one that a lot of people do not give enough credit for. I cannot tell you the amount of people who listen to me when I say that I work for a summer camp business and they say, “Oh, that’s nice. That must be an easy job, just looking after kids for the summer.” For those who have worked in counselor positions and summer camp jobs, I’m sure you would react strongly to that kind of statement.
Working at a camp for the summer is one of the most rewarding experiences a young person can have in their career of work as they get older, but it is also one of the most difficult, and that is what people take for granted. When you sign up for a counselor job, you must be ready for long hours, being around people for
almost all hours of the day and a job that is so demanding that you may very well be working for 23 hours of the day. For many, I would say that kind of responsibility and what the job would ask of them would be too much, and these would be the same people who would say what an easy job it would be.
You can take this job experience and apply to any job in the future that you wish to pursue. When you need the fortitude, desire and concentration to complete a job, you can refer back to your time working as a counselor to complete that particular job. Make no mistake, having these kinds of difficult experiences in a job environment and then having the mindset to succeed in difficult circumstances is one that will serve you the rest of your life.
B) First Job For Many
Let’s be honest. In the current job market, how often do you see a job listing requiring several years of experience, multiple degrees, having a ton of outside jobs so that a particular company won’t have to pay much attention to training you? Trying to find that first job, especially when you are a college student is a difficult prospect. Not all of us are going for law degrees and we need to intern at a law firm for a summer, nor are we investment bankers looking to intern at a firm or bank.
For many, the path to a job is not as cut and dry as these other professions, and for many, just trying to find that first step is the hardest part. We all need to gain momentum in our careers and a summer job as a camp counselor is a great way to get the ball rolling. Like I had mentioned in the first point, a camp counselor job is a pretty tough job, tougher than most imagine, and when you are able to articulate that difficulty and what you actually did to an employer, it will definitely make them look at the position differently.
C) Working with and meeting people from all over the world
A main point that I have noticed from talking to people at camp job fairs and those who I would speak later with in person is one of becoming more worldly, specifically doing traveling, meeting people, learning about other countries, cultures, etc. For many students today, it does seem to be a goal for students to travel at some point during their student career. There’s no doubt that it opens doors and provide opportunity to those who are willing to take some time in a year or semester.
Many who do participate in a camp counselor job actually come from international countries, mainly from Europe, and these people are college aged individuals who are looking for these perspective-broadening experiences.
One of the great benefits people will point to after working a summer at camp is that they have gained friends from so many different places in the world that they will have people to travel with or to if they would want to go to different countries, cities, towns, etc. Couch surfing for the win!
However, even though there are these benefits, you also gain the experience of working with others who have a different culture than yourself or may speak an entirely different language than the one you use. It is these experiences that you can point to when it comes to team building, conflict management, leadership roleplay, and much more. When looking to work in an office, firm, or whichever job, you can use this prior experience of being on such a diverse and large team to your benefit.
D) Working in a Child Care Field
Child care has many different avenues of work that people can pursue after having gone through a summer as a camp counselor. Looking at just a few jobs, you can be a teacher for whichever grade level, work as a social worker with family cases, or be an aide to special needs children in a school system, among many, many others.
What may also happen is that someone who may have had the idea of working with children as a career can see that they would not fit into this type of role and seek out another career that is more suited to their interests. Unfortunate, but it does happen sometimes, and it is much better to learn that a career at this time and stage of development is not right for you, rather than spending 20 to 30 years working in a job that you hate and wish you never had taken in the first place.
For those who are willing and want to work with children, the child care field is one that has grown to include many professions and many opportunities as well. When you are searching for child care related professions, your resume will be made that much more enticing to employers when you include your time as a camp counselor. What better experience can you ask for when looking to work with children than to have a job where you are around them for 24 hours of the day and have to respond to whatever issues crop up in that time frame.
In this writing, I wanted to convey that a camp counselor position is one that may be looked down upon at first by those who are unfamiliar with the summer camp space, but upon further inspection, the work that is done at a camp is one that can prepare any individual for a career in their future. Every job will have ups and downs and every job will have its own difficulties and not every job will be for every person. However, when you look at the benefits that are described in this writing and what could potentially be a great resource for you going forward, I truly hope that you would consider being a camp counselor if the opportunity would arise.
By Matt Buynak Jr. (11/18/2016)