College Kids Need Camp: 10 ways being a camp counselor prepares young adults for success in life

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No matter the field of study, students can all benefit from working at a summer camp. Camps today provide diverse, immersive opportunities. Between internships, backpacking, local jobs, and summer road trips, college students have a myriad of options for what to do between Memorial Day and Labor Day. So why spend time working at a summer camp?

1. Diverse & Global Experience

Camp often provides a global experience without the expense of long-distance travel; it is not uncommon for campers and staff to travel from a variety of places bringing cultural perspectives from around the US and world.

2. 21st Century Skills

Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and contribution are all skills developed and practiced at summer camp. The sheer nature of how camps are setup and operate force young adults to utilize these skills, and they are skills or traits that draw the eyes of potential employers.

Camp Mowglis, Hebron, New Hampshire

3. Leadership

This is learned in a real-life context. Counselors will likely be supervising between 7-15 others, engaging in decision-making, learning behavior management, and living ethics; all necessary leadership skills for today.

4. Letters of Recommendation

Camp directors/leaders write great letters of recommendation, for they take the time to get to know counselors as individuals and see them in action daily. They also love writing references for strong counselors. It helps promote the benefits of the camp experience as they pertain to the outside world.

5. Room & Board

If working at a residential camp; housing, meals, laundry, utilities, and other living expenses may be fully covered. This translates to some extra money at the end of the season when returning to school or venturing out for the next job.

O-AT-KA | Annie Bowe, Sebago, Maine

6. College Credit or Internship

Counselors may be eligible for college credit in some cases or able to use camp as an independent study or internship experience. Counselors should ask potential camp employers about their policies regarding internship or course credits. Additionally, counselors should talk to school advisors and professors about how the skills fostered at camp directly relate to their major and will make them a stronger job candidate in their field.

7. Networking Opportunities

Between other staff and camp alumni, working at camp provides a link to internships or future job/business opportunities down the road. Very few experiences bond a network like working at camp.

8. Professional Development, Training, and Certifications

Ongoing professional development sets up counselors to learn about their jobs while building a strong relationship with the diverse group around them. Also, counselors get to keep any additional training or certifications acquired during their summer (I.E. CPR, first aid, or activity-specific certifications).

Beaver Summer Camp, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

9. Paycheck

Counselors typically receive a base salary with add-ons for experience, certifications, leadership roles, extra duties, successful referrals, etc. With most camps providing room and board, spending a summer at camp is a great way for college students to earn and save some money.

10. It’s Fun

That’s right. Camp is fun. It’s an extension of the school year. It provides opportunity for developing 21st century skills. Counselors and campers try new things and build lasting, relationships, and they do all this while having fun.

Camp Mowglis, Hebron, New Hampshire

Need some more convincing? Check out the most recent resources from #ProjectRealJob on how working at camp is a real job.