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For camp people here in New England, it’s one of the most wonderful times of the year as many camps have begun to interview and hire staff. Yes, now!  And staffing up efforts will only increase as summer approaches. 

Of course, THE most important time of the year is summer for the camp world and for the people who power it.There's a definite sense of seasonality to the work required to make camp happen. The New England region experiences all four seasons weather-wise, and, there's much to do each season in order to be camp and camper ready. Fall’s full of wrapping up, packing up, reflecting on and evaluating the summer. Winter’s focus is on prepping for the summer ahead by finalizing camper enrollment and intensifying staff recruitment. And, it’s also full of dreaming, scheming, and planning for the up-coming summer. We kick off spring with the ACA New England Conference — our 95th in 2016! — where camp professionals and staff are inspired by educational opportunities and enjoy a chance to benefit from an array of camp-specific goods and services in the CampEXPO. The rest of the spring is a race to finalize camper enrollment and staff recruitment and to prepare the people, the program and the property for the arrival of campers.  

Countless seasonal staff members will be hired between now and summer, so we're encouraging prospective applicants to apply! Jobs (and careers) in the unparalleled educational setting of summer camp come in many forms: they are seasonal and year ‘round, full- and part-time, and camp and/or winter-office-based. Prospective camp employees can create a résumé or CV and launch their camp job searches in time for the countless job postings that will appear between January and June. Check out the Jobs page of our website and the postings on the website of the national ACA. As a future camp employee, we also suggest that you focus on the jobs at camps that are accredited by the ACA. Among ACA’s 300+ standards are several that mightily influence employee experience, among other key aspects of operating a camp.  

ACA's January/February Camping Magazine includes an interview with GRAMMY Award-winning musician Zac Brown, which reveals how camp experiences support optimal child development and why the ACA is his goto resource. Zac discusses how his personal experience as a camper and a camp counselor was  "a key driver in his personal development as a person and a leader" and inspired him to found Camp Southern Ground. And then he talks about why he's associated with the ACA. 

Why do you feel it's important to be associated with ACA?

We believe there are people who have done this a lot longer than we have and we want to learn from our peers. We want the credibility of association with an organization that has standards and expectations — standards much higher than the minimum that we can aspire to achieve.

It's about reputation and sharing experiences with people who have been where we want to go, and tapping into that wealth of knowledge. Zac calls it "tapping into genius."

For those who didn’t attend camp, like Zac, or who might not realize why working at day or overnight camp is a most valuable résumé boost, here are four reasons to work at an ACA Accredited camp in New England in Summer ’16:

  1. You’ll have the opportunity to do real work. This not a coffee fetching kind of gig, or one where you’re doing data entry (unless you’ve landed a position in a camp kitchen or office and have signed on for such tasks). Camps do a great job with building progressive skills in people young and old. It’s impossible to create a community where the focus is on camper self-efficacy if the staff are not competent, actively learning and engaged. It’s one of the big reasons college students return year after year to successively responsible camp jobs. Camps trust young people with really important work. What’s more important than participating fully in the education of, motivation of, and safety of children? A lot has been written about this topic, but here’s one of our favorites that compares camp jobs to internships. So, get a camp job and take on the responsibility you’re capable of now. It'll put direct experience on your résumé and give you some stories that will set you apart!
  2. Interesting and challenging camp positions allow career exploration. A quick review of camp job titles shows how unique and interesting the work can be. Where else can you be a Llama Wrangler, Director of Leadership or a guru – like an Outdoor Education Guru  or a Maintenance Guru? Even if you only work at camp one summer (though few people succeed at working only one summer!), imagine the benefits of playing an integral role while gaining relevant experience all while learning and engaging fully at summer camp. The general skills required by camp work are highly valuable in the workforce later – the ability to collaborate; to resolve conflict and to problem solve, to communicate with and motivate colleagues and children; and to take responsibility individually and collectively for the work, which can be as rigorous as it is rewarding. So, get a camp job and have a meaningful work experience that will prepare you for almost ANY future work demands.
  3. It's refreshing to benefit from living and working outside, whether during the day, overnight or both. A lot has been written about the power of unplugging and connecting with nature together. Camp jobs offer face time, not Facebook time and conversations and discussions, not snapchats tweets, emails, and voicemails. Being outside is a natural anti-depressant. Camp living is active – with waaaaaaay more steps that folks take at home or school. Increasingly, these elements of camp life are hard to come by and have become increasingly important in a world where electronic connections dominate, interactions with the out of doors are scarce, and sedentary lifestyles are on the rise. So, get a camp job to keep things grounded in your life.
  4. Camp experiences are transformative – for the campers AND for the adults who are teaching, mentoring, coaching, supporting and supervising them. Carol Dweck’s concept of a growth mindset is alive and well at camp where individuals of all ages are invited and encouraged to grow in ways they never dreampt possible and in ways that offer transferable skills for the future. Working at camp challenges and changes all members of the camp community, campers and staff. So, get a camp job for what it will mean to your own growth potential.

Camps provide amazing economic engines for their communities and their overarching impact on the region is enormous.Camp employees are part of the economic engine as camps go about sourcing everything from food to supplies, attracting families who spend money while in the area (whether that’s at a coffee spot near day camp or a B&B down the road from overnight camp) and, very importantly, hiring many local professionals and staff who will do the critically important work of teaching and supporting children in summer camp settings. Listen to our executive director, Bette Bussel, outline how great camp is for children and for the economy. Don’t underestimate the various impacts of working at camp in Summer ‘16—on yourself, on the future generation, on the economy, and on the surrounding community. Apply today!

Photo Credits from the following ACA Accredited camps (top down): Camp Howe (Goshen, MA) and Camp Chewonki (Wiscasset, ME)