Photo Credit Camp North Star
So you want a summer camp job but feel – or more likely, your parents feel -you should get a “real job”. First of all, summer camp jobs are REAL jobs. In fact, a summer camp job may be the most real job with the most real life benefits you can take this summer. Below are 5 real-world benefits of working at summer camp. Camp jobs are more than just fun (and, yes they are FUN), a camp job can be a part of your total education experience. Now let’s get you and your folks on the same page…
- Travel – The majority of American students attend college with 100 miles of home. Summer camps are in all 50 US States and all of the southern Canadian provinces. Summer camps offer paid (or partial) travel to and from camp, salary, free room and board and all expenses on official camp trips. Explore a region you may be considering for after college graduation or just expand your knowledge of the country. Travel will help you grow as a citizen and a person.
- Make new, diverse friends – Because of the 100 miles from home thing mentioned above, most college students do not have the opportunity to develop real relationships with students from different backgrounds – regional, political, racial, religious. In a time when the country has seemingly become so sharply divided, camp offers the opportunity for positive relationship building. The camp we ran had a staff of 180 from over 30 states and 10 countries each year. Staff had the chance to put real faces to the ideas they read about on social media and heard about on the news. Who knows, during a long hike or around a summer night campfire – a conversation or an exchange of ideas may lead to solutions in the future.
- Make job connections – Colleges are preparing students for a future of job mobility and remote working environments. Again, noting the whole 100 miles thing, the geographically diverse relationships at summer camp can lead to future job opportunities and in the case of a truly mobile working situation – the opportunity to have friendly, helpful faces when moving to a new area. The bonus is your LinkedIn connections will get a huge boost in the cool factor!
- Have real responsibilities – Face it, for an undergrad an internship at a Fortune 500 company is probably a summer of picking up dry cleaning and taking coffee orders – no real responsibility that can affect the business. At summer camp, every staff member bears responsibility for the success (or failure) of the camp season (aka the business.). Bunk counselors are responsible 24/7 for the safety and health of their bunk. Group leaders are responsible for conflict resolution with coworkers and between campers. Aspiring coaches are responsible for developing and executing lesson plans and classes. Every interaction has direct impact on a campers experience – leading to the camps growth or otherwise. For a college student having a first time job experience, tack on time management skills and personal responsibilities. A staff parent once told us, “My daughter was pretty sheltered before camp. Whenever she had problem at school, she called us on her cell and we solved it. This summer she had to take responsibility for herself and has come back a more self assured, mature woman. Thank you!”
- Make a difference – Summer camp staff have the opportunity to make a real impact on the lives of fellow staff and the campers. This seems obvious at the wonderful the non-profit camps reaching at risk populations and special needs campers. What may not seem quite as obvious is the impact staff can have at private camps can be just as meaningful. Early in my camp career, I questioned whether to move from for profit, private camping in to the non-profit camping world. A wise camp director pointed out, the campers at his high-end camp had every opportunity in life to become CEO’s, political leaders, doctors – everything that financial privilege had to offer. What we could do as camp professionals is make sure these future leaders were instilled with the values of summer camp so that when they were in position too impact the world, their summer camp experience would guide them. You may think that sounds a little kumbaya – but what’s wrong with that?!?