Spring is just around the corner and summer will be here before you know it, which makes now the time to start thinking about how you’re going to spend your summer. If you’re a college student, you could toil away as a server or cook at the local pizza joint or operate rides or peddle souvenirs at the local amusement or sports park. Interning in an office may even be an option you’re considering. And we all know the internships at Wall Street banks are now fewer and far between. But if you want summer employment that promises a summer full of fun and adventure while also helping you develop valuable lifelong skills that employers view favorably, consider working at summer camp. Just because your college days are behind you doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role at summer camp for you too, particularly if you are a teacher or high school or college athletics coach looking for a great way to supplement your income. In fact, the ages and backgrounds of the people who make up the typical summer camp staff are about as diverse as summer camps themselves.
If you don’t think being a counselor is really your thing or you’re pretty sure you’ve aged out of that option, don’t sweat it. There are a multitude of positions besides counselors that summer camps must fill each summer. For starters, camps have offices and offices require personnel to run them. If answering the phone and administrative tasks are more to your liking, perhaps working in a summer camp office might be the ideal option for you. Additionally, camps need people to help with daily scheduling as well as planning and executing special activities during the evenings and on special days.
If you like the idea of spending time with children but are an athlete or hobbyist who would rather focus on your passion, summer camps hire specialists to teach skills in specific sports and hobbies to campers. If your passion is photography or videography, as the camp photographer responsible for capturing the fun every day, your role is one of the most integral at camp. In fact, if you can think of an activity, there is probably a staffing need for it at camp, and sometimes some of the hardest positions to fill are ones most people just don’t think of when they think of summer camp, such as creative writing, cooking, robotics, eco science, skateboarding, or magic.
Although most hospitality positions such as food service, maintenance, and housekeeping are usually filled with international applicants, some camps hire domestic applicants as well, particularly for supervisory roles in these areas. If you are an international student who would love to earn some money by working in the U.S. before or after traveling, one of these summer camp roles may be the perfect option for you…as well as a lot of fun and a chance to make a lot of new friends from around the world!
Camps also have a need to fill key roles that require more foundational knowledge and experience. Aside from campers, camps also need division heads or campus leaders, people who lead a specific age group and supervise all of the counselors within that group. Although many camps fill all or most of their head roles from within, using individuals who have several years of successful camp experience because they require a more intricate knowledge of summer camp, occasionally they will search outside of camp, typically for teachers or other professionals who work with children. Camps also hire program or activity heads, usually college coaches and current or former professionals in their area of expertise, such as soccer, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, etc. However, since almost all activities require people to run them, those with interest and expertise in hobby or arts related programs can often find a summer home at camp in areas such as arts and crafts, dance, theater, etc. Those who manage offices, act as campus administrators, or arrange transportation are typically individuals with some type of related work experience as well. Most camps also employ camp moms or parent liaisons during the summer. These are individuals, often mothers themselves, who monitor the well being of younger campers to insure they are eating properly, staying well groomed, and having a fantastic summer.
So who works at camp? Chances are someone like you! If you’d like a summer job in which you can work among a diverse group of people from all over the world, make lifetime friends, be challenged everyday, and have the time of your life, apply now to one of America’s Finest Summer Camps!
Every year around this time we pause to reflect on those aspects of our lives about which we are most thankful. To celebrate this turkey day, we thought we’d share what makes us most thankful for summer camp:
Our camp families: Without our campers, there would be no summer camp. We’re thankful you value your summer camp experiences so much that you return every summer, and that you continue to build and carry on the traditions that make America’s Finest Summer Camps so special.
Our camp family: The unique family we are all a part of each summer. The bonds that campers and staff create truly do last a lifetime. We love every moment of the summer when we are laughing, playing, singing, and sharing together.
Camp Memories: Every year we bring home new memories that motivate us to make the next summer even more special than the previous. Talking with our families and camp friends about our summers and sharing in each others’ unique experiences while at summer camp are some of our favorite times during the winter months. They help us get over our “camp sickness” and carry us through those months between summers. Speaking of camp friends…
Camp Friends: Every camper knows that camp friends are friends for life. Our camp friends share some very special memories that one can only get at summer camp. Our camp friends are also great at helping us get through those ten months that we’re not at camp by reminding us of just how special summer camp is, whether it’s through the distance that makes seeing each other at camp every summer so special or the closeness of having a camp pal who “gets it”.
Amazing Staff Members from all over the Globe: Summer Camps are only as good as their staff, and we’re thankful that we have some of the most amazing staff anywhere in the world. Each summer, you come from all over the world and commit yourselves 24/7 to insuring our campers have a safe, amazing summer. We know it’s hard work, and we are grateful that so many of you find the experience so gratifying that you return year after year.
The Breathtaking Scenery of Maine and Northeast Pennsylvania: We love where our camps are located almost as much as we love our camps. The beautiful woodlands of Maine, the mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania, hiking paths, the lakes that are such a big part of our camp experiences and traditions, and the wildlife all make the perfect backdrops for our amazing campuses.
The Beautiful Campuses that are our Summer Homes: Just like the houses we live in the other ten months of the year, each of our summer homes has its own energy, homey feeling, and special places for gathering, playing or contemplating. We’re proud that ours are some of the most awesome facilities in camping and look forward to continuing to build and improve them each summer. We know our campers eagerly await opening day when they finally get to see how camp has changed since the previous summer and what new additions might be waiting for them.
Our Year-Round Staff: Yes, even summer camp requires a staff to work year-round. After each summer, they go back to their offices and immediately begin planning the next, thinking about what new programs we might add or how we might make existing ones better. They begin traveling, recruiting new staff members. They create newsletters, Tweets, and blogs. They answer the phones when you call. They plan the menus. In short, they tirelessly build each amazing summer day by day.
Being a Part of Such an Iconic American Tradition: All over the world, American summer camps are an icon of Americana. They’re unique to America and so many have found them inspirational that there have been movies and television shows that feature them, as well as books and songs written about them. We are also grateful that many of our international friends are beginning to see the value in the American summer camp experience and, increasingly, are joining us from all corners of the globe.
We hope this holiday season that we’ve inspired you to contemplate what it is about camp that you’re most thankful for and how it has enriched your life. We encourage you to share those thoughts with us. We’d love to hear them!
One thing that isn’t entirely evident to people who’ve only recently begun to familiarize themselves with the world of summer camp is the level of connection that it provides, not just to a regional network of people, but to those from different states and even countries. The campers and staff members that make up America’s Finest Summer Camps come from all parts of the globe to bring together a multitude of cultures. According to Fransec Pedro, analyst for the Center for Research and Information with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, global awareness and effective communication across cultures are essential in today’s international economy. Exposure to many different cultures provides campers and staff members with experiences throughout the summer that ultimately help them learn and integrate these skills into their lives.
The challenges that are sometimes involved in effective communication across cultures help campers at America’s Finest Summer Camps learn how to express themselves efficiently. When exposed to multiple cultures, it’s not only important to use language resourcefully in order to express oneself but to be a good listener. Understanding that people have various ways of thinking, express themselves differently, and that those differences sometimes affect our world view is no longer a novel skill but a requirement for success in today’s world. “Students need to graduate from high school not only workforce-ready and college-ready, but they also need to be globally competent,” says Alexis Menten, Assistant Director of the Asia Society.
Inevitably, there are sometimes mis-communications but such stumbles are part of a learning process that, like other skills, requires practice. Connecting with people from all over the globe helps children understand that the world reaches beyond their immediate surroundings. In the process, they learn to think internationally when building their social networks. This often leads to opportunities that they may not have otherwise have had. For many a summer camp staff member or camper, the process of learning how to connect begins and grows during their at camp.
Demographics are not the sole aspect of summer camp that makes it the ideal setting for “becoming global”, however. The very structure of camp is surprisingly global. As in the real world, the camp world expands outward from the individual. Campers and counselors must learn to function as a bunk or cabin. Then, as a bunk or cabin, they must figure out how to be part of a larger group of other bunks or cabins of campers the same age. From there, they must all learn how to work with other campers of various ages to become what makes “camp” a unit, rather than hundreds of individuals. Being part of the camp unit is what campers and staff members alike report as the most meaningful part of summer camp.
The summer of 2011 is over, a new school year has started, everyone has finally unpacked their camp bags, and now the wait for the summer of 2012 begins. Ten months isn’t really that long. Every year we manage to wait it out. But when it’s September and the fun times we had this past summer are still fresh in our minds, it seems like an eternity; and, inevitably, we all feel a little bit (or a lot!) camp sick. We all know the feeling. Some of us find ourselves singing camp songs or have the urge to tie-dye something…maybe even set our ring tones to the camp bell, or just sit around with camp friends re-living all of the memories from the summer. Saying goodbye to another summer in our own way is a rite that we go through every fall. We not only say goodbye to our camp friends, but our counselors, and upper campers. But on the upside of goodbye is hello. Hello to all of our new friends who will join us for the first time next summer. Hello to the challenge and excitement of planning a new summer that’s even better than last. Hello to good times that turn into new memories. Hello to a new group of campers. Hello to the new counselors and staff members who choose to make camp their summer home next year. Hello, everyone. We can’t wait to see you in the summer of 2012!
Every day, we rely on a several teams of individuals to make camp happen. Everyone knows about camp counselors, the people on the front lines, but not everyone is aware of the people who work behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. Running a summer camp really is more than showing up in June ready to welcome campers and have fun. There are a myriad of staff members who perform the often thankless job of working “behind the scenes” at camp. They are a very diverse group of individuals. Some of them answer the phone when you call the camp. Others schedule daily activities, arrange transportation, or cook the food. Still, others take care of your children when they’re not feeling well, or look into your concerns about their daily lives at camp.
The fact of the matter is that summer camps require individuals of many interests and talents to operate successfully, and the measure of a good summer relies on the abilities and passions of these individuals. They often work long hours, from sunrise until the wee hours of the morning simply because they love camp. If you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you that they do what they do because, in the end, it contributes to a successful summer for campers and their parents. They also might be a little coy in admitting that it’s just plain fun for them.
Furthermore, these people are so good at their jobs that we don’t even adequately know how to thank them. They work with passion and without regard to anything but making sure our campers and their parents have the best possible experience at our camps. It truly is a thankless job , in many ways, to work behind the scenes at an American summer camp. But we are thankful!
Staff Orientation has been amazing and the weather has been spectacular. With counselors now assigned to cabins, we are focused on learning all about our wonderful campers, learning the Laurel South culture, readying the cabins and program areas and bonding as a cohesive unit. Camp looks great. In fact, the only thing that could make it look better is the faces of 400 campers arriving this Thursday!!! We can’t wait to see you!
Our hardworking Pre-Camp Staff has continued their great work. Each day, Laurel South looks better and better!! Last night, we all headed to Windham for a well- deserved night out for pizza and a movie. In just a few days, we will welcome our Adventure and Equestrian Staff for their training sessions. As we see camp shaping up, it only heightens our anticipation for the start of the 2011 season, when the entire Laurel South family will be reunited on the beautiful shores of Crescent Lake! We can’t wait to see everyone soon.
Every summer you pack your children up and entrust them to the care of others for the summer. Have you ever wondered what sort of training is provided for your child’s summer camp staff? For summer camp staff members, the season begins at least one week before the campers arrive with Orientation.
What is Camp Counselor Orientation? Orientation is a week for camp counselors and other staff members to…
Become familiar with the camp’s expectations. Summer camp staff members participate in workshops relating to teamwork, camp policies, and child development. During this time, counselors are also familiarized with ACA standards and the importance of maintaining and exceeding these standards. It’s during this training that counselors are able to grasp that their new summer job, though fun, carries a lot of responsibility and 24/7 focus.
Familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Your camp wants counselors to understand the campus prior to your camper arriving. During Orientation, staff members are given every opportunity to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings, as well as which areas require special supervision.
Make new friends. Why is this important to you? Happy counselors make better counselors. As you well know as parents, having a proper support system in place is essential to the success of any parent. Those looking after your children this summer are no exception. Orientation is a time for summer camp staff members to become comfortable with their new co-workers and begin to get to know each other.
Attain necessary certification. Those staff members working in areas such as waterfront and outdoor adventure must have training and certification prior to supervising your children. For some staff members, this entails arriving at camp well before the camper arrival date in order to be fully prepared from the day the first camper sets foot on campus. Outside experts such as the Red Cross are often brought in to conduct lifeguard training. Outdoor Adventure and Waterfront areas also frequently utilize external professionals to train their staff.
Understand what it’s like to be a camper. Many camp orientation programs follow mock daily camp schedules and encourage staff members to participate in many of the same activities that their campers will throughout the summer. Most staff members live and function as members of groups during this period. The role play isn’t merely designed to give staff members an idea of what’s in store. It gives them the opportunity to embrace the camp’s traditions so that they can share in the enthusiasm with campers.
Receive very valuable and essential education to understanding and working with children. Summer camps take the well being of their campers very seriously and spare no expense in this area of Orientation. Big name speakers are brought in for lectures and workshops that educate staff members with the latest, most up-to-date childcare information and relevant laws. Counselors and other camp staff are left with no doubt or misunderstanding that the campers and their safety are the reason that they are there and, as such, come first.
Mentally prepare themselves for the arrival of campers. Even the most seasoned childcare professionals and educators can feel a bit overwhelmed when suddenly surrounded by hundreds of enthusiastic children who’ve waited ten months to see their camp friends again. By taking place on campus before the campers arrive, Orientation serves as a sort of segue from the camp counselors’ lives back home into their new summer lives by giving them some time to adjust to their new home and surroundings before the chaos that is summer camp ensues.
Finally, Orientation is an opportunity for Camp Directors and Senior Staff to assess how their staff interacts and identify individual strengths and weaknesses. This helps them assign camp counselors to cabins and bunks and age groups in which they’re likely to provide the best leadership.
So when you put your campers on the bus in June, you can bet that a very excited and well trained camp staff is waiting on the other end to meet your children and give them the best summer ever.
Finally, we close our trilogy of camp counselor tips with one last blog dedicated to you, future camp counselors…
Get ready to build your resume! Working as a camp counselor at a summer camp will provide you with some invaluable experience that will serve you well far beyond this summer. Many HR Managers in lots of different fields find summer camp experience very impressive because of the level of dedication and commitment required. Summer Camp also demonstrates that you can adapt well to new cultures, which is essential for success in many corporate environments. In fact, many corporate executives were once campers and/or camp counselors themselves. If you’re an education major, it goes without saying that experience working directly with children is a huge plus on a new teacher’s resume.
One final warning: As a summer camp counselor, you will act goofy, dress funny, and find yourself doing all sorts of crazy things you’d probably never ordinarily do…and you’ll have a blast while doing them. It’s what summer camp is all about. But what other job can you get where being an expert in painting faces, making signs, inventing outrageous costumes, and acting silly are all just part of your typical workday?
So there you have it! A few suggestions for preparing yourself for a great and successful summer. Have fun!
We promised a sequel and here it is: Orientation 101…
The first thing you should know about the orientation is don’t sweat it. Yes, it’s intense. Yes, it’s a VERY busy week and there is a lot to get done. We know that, by the time months of anticipation for your new summer camp job to start come and you travel (sometimes for hours or even days) to get to the camp and find yourself actually there, even the most staunch start to feel the butterflies. Remember that everyone with whom you come into contact those first few days is probably feeling the same butterflies—even returners who’ve done all of it before. But relax. Orientation is also full of opportunities. Opportunities to learn more about your new surroundings, opportunities to learn more about your summer camp and embrace its traditions, opportunities to learn more about your summer job as a camp counselor, opportunities to change your mindset and grasp expectations, and opportunities to make friends.
Speaking of making friends, be ready to make LOTS of them from all over the world! Sure your summer camp job will only last for a couple of months. But a couple of months are plenty of time to make lifelong friends when you spend everyday together. You may even find that you don’t need the whole summer to bond. You’ll probably be planning vacations to visit some of your new friends during the winter before orientation is even over.
Don’t over- or under-pack. Yes, we know that you’re going to want to cram your entire bedroom into your suitcase or duffel.. But the fact is that camp housing isn’t exactly spacious. Most summer camps provide their camp counselors with packing lists. Of course you’re going to want to bring a few personal items, but don’t stray too far from what’s recommended and definitely avoid packing the “DO NOT BRING” items. In other words, make sure your camp permits camp counselors to bring outside food onto the campus before you pack a stash of Doritos and energy drinks. It’s also a good idea to make sure you read the camps guidelines about permissible items, particularly those related to swimsuits and shoes. Once you’re packed, inspect your suitcase one more time to make sure you remembered things that are often easily overlooked or forgotten by new summer camp counselors, like rain gear or bedding (if your summer camp requires you to bring your own).
Chances are that you’re going to get a very important email or envelope from your summer camp very soon, if you haven’t already. It’ll have some pretty important paperwork for you to complete. Be sure to pay attention to the specified deadlines for each form. For one thing, you’re not going to want to be bothered with it after you get to camp. For another, not filling it out on time may cause pesky delays in important things…like being paid!
Well that about covers the orientation. We’ve still got enough tips left for you that we’re going to make this one a trilogy. Be sure to come back in a few days for the final part of this series!