When looking for summer employment there are many camps to choose from, but an important question to ask yourself when looking for a summer camp job is which camp is the RIGHT choice for you? Picking the right camp can determine whether you have a great summer or decide that you never want to work for a summer camp ever again.
When selecting a camp for employment think about these questions;
What is the mission of the camp? Does that mission resonate with your beliefs? What kind of camp is it? Who do they serve and what kind of program is offered to the campers? Where is it located and how long has it been in-existence? Will you be able to handle the environment? Does it have a rich history? How invested is the organization or Camp Director in the camp? In other words are things falling apart at the camp or do they have the essential items in order to run an efficient program? How many staff from previous summers comes back? Does the camp have a high ratio of returning campers?
All of these are important questions to ask when interviewing with a Camp Director and asking these questions shows that you are truly invested in where you spend your summer. The answers you receive may help you select a camp that is the right fit for you, but will they guarantee that your summer will be flawless with nothing but sunny days, no stress, good sleep, children that will listen at all times, amazing food, great communication between you and your co-workers, no sun burn, tons of fun, no homesickness… The answer is……. NO!
While all of those questions are important to ask, the truth is your experience is what you make it and depends on how much you dedicate yourself to your role and the camp community. If you as a staff member have no interest in making the summer camp experience for your campers a memorable one then what is your purpose and how are you fulfilling the camp philosophy? What is your primary goal as a staff member and how much are you willing to invest your time and energy into your program?
Some of my best counselors when I was a camper made camp memorable by investing their time in me, by motivating me to step out of my comfort zone or by observing me and knowing exactly when I needed a nudge to bring my best foot forward. I wanted to be around that kind of counselor because it was usually that counselor who believed in me, even when I had lost all belief in myself. On the outside looking in I never really knew what stresses my counselors were facing, but I am sure they had their share of adversity as a camp counselor because it is the one job that will challenge you and help you discover things about yourself you never knew.
After years of being a camper, staff member, and a Camp Director I’ve come to realize that campers and staff go through the same situations every summer. For example, Campers get home sick, staff do too – Campers get nervous and stressed, staff do too – Campers have sleepless nights, staff do too – Campers get sick of the repetitive food, staff do too – Campers don’t always agree with their peers, staff don’t too – Campers have moments of wanting to give up and go home and guess what? Staff do too!
The only way you will truly know if you made the right decision is when you reflect on your summer, look back at your experiences, take the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly and say to yourself… I can’t wait to come back next summer! And guess what? Campers will too!
Tales from Chippewa trails…