Are you interested in becoming a camp counselor, but unsure about how this unique kind of work experience will contribute to your overall career trajectory? Your camp counselor experience could change your life!
Camp counseling is all too often underestimated by young people, who choose internships and 9-5 summer work experience over a stint at a local camp. But though you may think that being employed as a camp counselor is simply a fun retreat to the woods for a month or two (and in many ways, that describes camp counseling perfectly), it’s also a serious job which will afford you invaluable transferable skills as you look forward to post-graduate work. Getting that camp counselor experience is an exciting time.
Among other things, when you get your camp counselor experience, you’ll learn skills like leadership, teamwork, and responsibility: attributes that every employer is on the lookout for. Discover how your role as a counselor can end up helping both the people you care for at camp and your own life and work skills. If you were on the fence about applying before, you’ve come to the right place to learn about the camp counselor experience.
The camp counselor experience is an inherently social game. To counsel successfully, you need to communicate well with the young people under your charge, as well as with concerned parents and your fellow counselors. You’ll be able to form particularly vital networks with your fellow leaders – since camp counselors come from all around the world, the bonds you forge may well translate into professional connections as your cohort of leaders moves on from camp and into the corporate realm.
And you never know: perhaps a potential future boss will spot your can-do attitude and responsible nature while visiting their kid at camp, and you can strike up a conversation about possible career opportunities from there. Believe me, stranger things have happened to camp counselors! In addition to your own positive camp counselor experience, you’ll also be influencing youth.
Summer camps are all about human connection. Parents send their kids to camp for the school break because they want their son or daughter to escape from antisocial technology, and to get around people (not to mention nature). It’s the camp counselor’s responsibility to ensure that these social bonds are being forged in all sorts of directions.
At camp, you’ll learn that very little can be achieved alone. Not only will you be encouraging your flock of campers to cooperate and connect in group activities on the daily, but you’ll depend on your fellow counselors for input and help (and vice versa) when things get challenging. Camp culture is communal, not individualistic, which means that teamwork and diplomacy are essential to getting anything done – a great baptism-by-fire for the open-plan workplace.
Strong Work Ethic
Camp counseling is certainly buckets of fun. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel like “work,” but the hours are long and your responsibilities are non-negotiable. Most people have experienced a summer camp at least once in their lives and know that camp counselors and are expected to be friendly, approachable, and alert for the entire period of their contracts. Prospective bosses will surely give you serious kudos for that!
If a prospective employer sees from your career history that you’ve previously held a post as a camp counselor, they’ll know that you’re a self-starter. Hiring committees value past counselors for their autonomous working style because while your supervisors teach you the tricks of the trade before throwing you into the deep end, you’ll learn pretty quickly that you need to make your own calls.
If you’ve been tied down to entry-level jobs in which your every action is micro-managed, applying for a post as a camp counselor might be just what you need to develop some working independence.
Photo Credit: SpiritComms via Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons License
A Sense of Responsibility
As a camp counselor, you’re likely to be responsible for 10 or more young lives. Not even million-dollar bankers share that kind of responsibility every day! The great news is that bosses will register the gravitas of your charge as a camp leader, and trust in your ability to handle whatever they throw at you in a professional context. In other words, they’ll deduce that if you can handle a group of kids single-handedly, you can handle any given workload.
A sense of duty and responsibility leads to the development of other skills at camp, too. The most obvious is a knack for details. When you have to remember each child’s individual requirements – such as allergies, sun-sensitive skin, or shyness – you’ll swiftly become a master of minutiae and multi-tasking.
If you’ve long been looking for a way to learn great leadership skills but haven’t found the right outlet to develop your potential as a leader, becoming a camp counselor could be a great route for you! Learning to be a leader will make you appreciate the leaders in your own life even more, and will add great, practical skills to your CV as well.
Particularly if you don’t have much existing job experience, working at a summer camp can provide you with a host of priceless scenarios and stories that you can use as illustrations when you are answering tricky interview questions.
Need an instance where your problem-solving capacities were tested? Most camp counselors will have dozens of examples to choose from – and if you are ever asked to identify a point of personal weakness that was brought to your attention in a prior workplace, you’ll have myriad answers to shape.
While on summer camp, the daily itineraries prepared beforehand will rarely go perfectly to plan. Changes in weather, staff sickness, canceled entertainment, anxious kids, wild animals, broken equipment, and all sorts of other common camp problems may force you to think up a creative alternative on your feet and save the day
Camp counseling may seem overwhelming and might stress you out a little at first, but don’t worry, it will all be worth it. The precious young people in your care will look to you for an example of how they should behave – so take this excellent opportunity to create wonderful memories in their lives as a kind, responsible, creative, fun counselor.
Before long, you’ll emerge from camp cool as a cucumber under pressure and a much more creative and practical thinker! What more could an employer want?
Allison Hail is a freelance writer from Wellington, NZ. She loves finding new ways to live a healthy, active lifestyle and has produced articles for business and recreation sites such as Jumpflex AU. You can find more of Allison’s work here.