The Great Outdoors: There’s nothing better than fresh air, sunshine and amazing Crescent Lake. Rolling hills, trees as far as the eye can see…you won’t find a better office or cubicle than a summer in Maine.
Be the Difference: Camp counselors instantly become role models for campers. Every moment is an opportunity to form a lifelong memory, whether funny or poignant. What you do matters, and that’s the best feeling of all.
Lifelong Friendships: Camp is a unique environment because it’s the ultimate team endeavor. Counselors are surrounded by people who are like-minded in so many ways and come with a similar appetite for adventure. On camp departure day counselors have a network of peers that extends from coast to coast (and into other countries!)
Leadership: Camp is genuine, and everyone is encouraged to be themselves. Counselors are also guiding campers all day, every day. Getting to a level of comfort while leading translates into confidence in so many other areas of your life.
Unplug: Camp is the easiest place to look up and live in the moment. You have meaningful conversations and form amazing relationships. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll have tons of ‘Gram-worthy’ pictures from the summer. And every one of them will have a funny story to go along with the people and places included in them.
Learning: You learn so much about yourself at camp. You’re spending two months in a new environment and will be glad you embraced the opportunity. You’ll gain valuable new perspectives from interacting with campers and counselors from different walks of life. It’s truly incredible.
You leave behind your comfortable life and embrace a new routine in a new environment. You hop off a plane into a situation you know very little about. It can be overwhelming at first. But, before you know it, life at Laurel South quickly becomes a little slice of heaven. The people who started as strangers become your best friends and you walk away having made a difference.
Becoming a camp counselor is one of the most beneficial and life-changing career choices a young adult can make. Working at a summer camp teaches you how to adapt to new environments, people and challenges. It teaches you to embrace the simple things in life; to unplug from the outside world and live in the moment.
It’s easy to get stuck in your personal routine, but continued growth is important in every aspect of our life. Where you’re uncomfortable is where you grow the most and part of growing as an individual is to accept that life is forever changing. We should strive to live the width of our life and not just the length of it. To be successful, you must learn how to develop with that change.
Being at camp encourages you to step away from technology and social media. The camp culture exemplifies how to enjoy the present experience and to appreciate the beauty of nature and friendships you make along the way. We have an instinct to look at our phone, texts, Snapchats, Instagram etc. Working at camp helps you develop the habits of “hellos” and high-fives. Instead of staring at your phone, you look up more and when the summer ends, you have an appreciation of being away from it all.
Being a camp counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love. The hard work comes with an unbelievable pay off. A reward that is indescribable. The friendships and memories you make will last a lifetime. Spending the summer months in a place that allows you to wear silly costumes, dance to fun music and laugh a lot is awesome. It will positively change you as a person in ways you never thought possible.
It’s interesting how many times throughout the summer counselors are overheard beginning a sentence with the phrase ‘I never thought I would…’ Working at sleepaway camp is truly a collection of ‘I never thought I would…’ moments. All too often, those are also the remarks that speak for camp itself, because they’re epiphanies from the staff members themselves. Although the “I never thought I would…’ comments are as varied as the counselors, there are a few that consistently come up. From the mouths of the staff members themselves, ‘I never thought I would…’
Make so many new friends
Sure, I came to camp expecting to meet a few new people. But I’ve made dozens of friends this summer from all over the world. I feel closer to some of them than I do to people I’ve known for years. I never imagined that I could grow so close to someone in just a few weeks. I’ve wanted to travel abroad for years, but have been scared of going places where I didn’t know the language or the people. Now I can’t wait to go knowing that my new camp friends are going to be there waiting for me!
Be so enthusiastic about little things
One of the most awesome things about working at summer camp is that even the smallest of details are a big deal. The campers get excited and I can’t help but feel it too. Going to our favorite activity during the day; getting ready for an evening activity; walking into a meal and seeing that it’s my favorite; telling silly knock-knock jokes in our cabin at night; and, in particular, those moments when I really connect with my campers.
Like working so hard
Camp is hard work! I start early in the morning and end late at night. It’s TOTALLY worth it though! I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Sometimes I forget that this is a job and I’m getting paid. So much happens in one day of camp. At night, I lay in bed and try to remember everything that happened during the day just because I don’t want to forget. I’ve started keeping a journal of my days at camp. This winter, when it’s cold outside and I’m missing camp, I’m going to read it. I’m so glad I decided to work at camp instead of accept an internship. This is SO much better than an office! Now I know I want to spend the rest of my life working with kids.
Talk a camper through something difficult
There are a lot of activities at camp and some of them require courage—especially if you’re a kid. I can’t imagine having the guts to maneuver a ropes course thirty feet in the air when I was ten. I really admire so many of my campers for trying brave and adventurous activities. The best part is being able to give the ones who are a little scared that extra push that they need to take on the adventure. There is nothing more gratifying than a smile and a high-five from a camper who just did something they thought they never could and knowing that I helped them do it.
Live so much in the moment
At camp, it’s simultaneously easy and impossible to forget about how short my time here really is.Every day just flies by, which is also reminder that the end of camp is one day closer. I find myself really wishing that I could slow down time, and I’ve started making an extra effort every day to savor each and every moment of camp. Doing so has made me very conscious of how much time I spend in my everyday life planning and thinking ahead. It’s really nice to keep things in the now. I hope to apply my new focus on living in the moment when I return home at the end of the summer, and stop spending so much time thinking about tomorrow.
Become so attached to my campers
I never imagined that I could become so close to a group of kids. I came to camp to be their leader. But it’s so much more than that. It’s impossible not to be attached after spending so much time with them at activities, at meals, in the cabin and getting to know them one-on-one. It’s blows my mind to think that I’ve become so attuned to their individual personalities in such a short amount of time. The summer isn’t even over, and I already know that I’m going to miss
Summer camp employment is synonymous with “camp counselor” in most people’s minds. But, there are a lot of “non-counselor” positions at camp. If you’re interested in working at summer camp but don’t really think the role of camp counselor would be best for you, consider one of these alternatives:
Program/Activity Head: Are you or have you ever been a professional or college level athlete or coach? If so, and you’re interested in working at summer camp, then the Program/Activity Head role might be a perfect fit for you. Program/Activity Heads oversee a sport or activity at camp. They typically have a staff of counselors who are also active in the sport or activity to assist with instruction and coaching. Program/Activity Heads plan daily activities, oversee instruction and assign campers to teams for intra and inter camp league play. There are also a handful of Program/Activity Head roles at camp for those who are not athletic but have some sort of niche expertise in areas like arts & crafts, music, dance, theater, cooking, science and communications.
Programming Staff: If you have a knack for scheduling, consider applying to work as part of a camp programming team. The camp programming staff is responsible for the daily camper and staff schedules. When creating schedules, they must keep in mind things like facility availability, staffing ratios and camper frequencies.
Special Events Staff: The special events staff at summer camp are responsible for all events that take place outside of the regular daily special. This is typically all evening activities and special days as well as (on that rare occasion) a rainy day. It helps if you have some sort of technical knowledge, such as connecting laptops to video screens, rigging microphones and operating (sometimes complicated) sound systems. But not everything you do as a special events staff member is hi-tech. You can also be charged with setting up a scavenger hunt, gathering and placing materials for game night, baking night or a host of other things. The imagination is the limit. If you love having fun, event planning and are detail oriented, special events might be the area of camp for you.
Photography/Videography: Camp photographer and videographer roles are highly specialized and extremely critical roles at camp. Every day, camp photographers take hundreds of photographs of daily activities and film many of the activities as well. If you’re a professional in either of these areas and are interested in working at summer camp, chances are there is a camp looking for you.
Camp Nurse: Summer camps maintain health centers and employ licensed nurses to dispense medication, clean up those inevitable scratches and cuts, and treat campers and staff who become ill during the summer. For those rare, more severe injuries that occur, nurses also may be asked to accompany campers or staff to local hospitals or doctors’ offices.
Office Staff: If you prefer behind the scenes desk work and answering phone calls, then consider applying for a camp office position. Typically, office staff answer phone calls, sort mail, greet visitors, manage camper phone calls, prepare documents or mailings, and complete other administrative tasks.
Maintenance Staff: If you’re a handyman (or woman) who’s good with a hammer, loves landscaping and cleaning, and prefers being outdoors to inside, consider applying to work as a member of the maintenance team. Camp maintenance staff stay busy all summer long maintaining summer camp campuses, and no two days as a camp maintenance staff member are alike.
Kitchen Staff: Working in the camp kitchen is perfect for those who thrive in restaurant environments. If you’re a chef, caterer or member of a restaurant staff- or aspire to be one – then working in a summer camp kitchen is a fun alternative to restaurant work.
If any of these camp roles interest you, camps are hiring now. Many of the people who work in these roles return year after year because they are a great way to integrate personal interests and specialized expertise with the fun and adventure of working at summer camp. Apply now and you just may find yourself returning year after year too.
A popular question that a lot of prospective summer camp counselors ask recruiters is about the difficult aspects of the job. After hearing about how much fun they will have, about the amount of time they will get to spend outdoors, about all of the friends they will make, and how much money they can save, it all sounds a bit too good to be true. Candidates want to know, ‘So, what’s the hard part?’ It’s a good question because, while it’s true that a simple internet search will produce article upon article about all of the great aspects of working at a sleepaway camp, few highlight the difficult parts of the job. In the name of bucking the status quo, this blog is going to take a stab at it.
First, camp ends. That’s probably the hardest part. From an outsider’s perspective, a couple of months never seems like a long time, certainly not long enough to form any permanent bonds or attachments. What a lot of people fail to consider, because it’s just such a foreign concept to most people, is that those two months aren’t 9-5, 5 days per week months. They’re 24/7 months—including meal times. That’s roughly 1,344 hours of constant interaction with campers and co-workers compared to the 320 hours those people who just do that daytime thing get. A little basic math establishes that’s roughly eight months of regular work time crammed into two. Eight months is the better part of a year and plenty of time to get pretty attached to new friends as well as campers. That’s why tears are usually inevitable when it comes time to saying goodbye. Goodbye is always hard. But it’s even harder when you know that you may never have the opportunity to see some of the people with whom you’ve just spent the equivalent of eight months of your life again.
Second, you have to be comfortable around children. This sounds like a no brainer, but if you’re used to spending most of your time around adults, spending most of your time around children requires a bit of an adjustment. It goes without saying that interacting with children requires a filter of sorts. Obviously, you don’t share everything with children that you would with other adults. Interacting with children also requires a great deal of discretion. They’re looking at you for answers. Not only knowing what answers to give but when to give them is important. Knowing when it’s not your place to answer but to escalate the issue is even more important. Also, successful interaction with children is all in the presentation. You have to be a good salesperson to a certain extent. Before signing up to work at summer camp, think about the fact that convincing at least one camper to do something he or she does not want to do and to have fun while doing it is likely going to be a daily occurrence. If you’re a person who is quick to lose patience, summer camp may not be the right fit for you.
Third, stepping outside of your comfort zone is difficult. Think about it. When you’re feeling like pizza, do you pick up the telephone and call a different restaurant to order each time or do you call that place that you know makes a killer pie? There is nothing wrong with comfort. It certainly makes life (and decisions) easier. But leaving friends and family and going to a completely foreign environment to live and work for two months is definitely taking a giant step out of the comfort zone for most people. A lot of first year staff members arrive at camp thinking they’re prepared…and then reality sets in. Just accept that you will feel disoriented for a few days and definitely out of your comfort zone, which is hard. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that stepping out of your comfort zone to work at camp is one of the best hardest things you will ever do.
Finally, working at camp is exhausting. Seriously. You need some serious stamina—both mental and physical–to make it through the summer. The days are long. The sleep is short. You will likely be given one day off per week, on which you will still find yourself spending time with the same people with whom you’ve been working for the past six days and with whom you will work for the next six days. Obviously, if you’re a person who values a lot of alone time, you might find working at camp a bit hard.
There you have it. The hard part. The fine print. The ‘What’s the catch?’ If you’ve read all of that and are ready to take on a bit of difficulty in exchange for a whole lot of fun, then a summer at camp just may be the right fit for you.
1.) Being able to put “Provided excellent care and fun for several hundred children” or “helped children improve athletic skills” on your resume is a pretty sweet bonus.
2.) Saying, “My friend who lives in Australia…” or “My friend who lives in Arizona…” sounds a lot cooler (and more worldly) than, “My friend who works two cubicles down from me…” Not to mention, you’ll save a whole lot of money on accommodations the next time you travel!
3.) You’d take tutus over “business casual” as dress code any day. Shorts and staff shirts meant you got some extra Zs in the morning, too, because you didn’t need an extra half hour to stand in front of your closet wondering what you should wear.
4.) Fetching snacks for your campers was so much more fun than fetching coffee for a boss–and your campers were more appreciative, too.
5.) You got paid to do lots of fun outdoor activities everyday. Your friends had to request a day off to do fun outdoor activities.
6.) Your “office” had a much better view than your friends’ cubicles. Summer camp provided plenty of breathing room in the form of roomy campuses as workplaces.
7.) Every day brought new opportunities and challenges that, by the sounds of it, were much more gratifying than spending an entire summer filing and creating mail merges.
8.) Letting loose and acting silly was not only acceptable, it was encouraged. Your friends got verbal warnings for laughing too loudly in their offices.
9.) The amount of friends and connections you have through social media outlets multiplied exponentially. Who knew summer camp would be such a great place to network?
10.) Laurel South was even more beautiful than it was in the video on the camp’s website that convinced you that you just had to work there–and the people some of the warmest you’ve ever met!
You’ve accepted the position and completed the paperwork. It’s official! You’re about to spend your first summer as a camp counselor. Naturally, a lot of people experience a few nerves in the days leading up to camp. After all, even when you’re a grown adult, leaving behind your family and friends to spend the summer in a strange place is a big deal, especially if you’ve never been away from home for an extended period of time before. If you didn’t attend summer camp as a child, working at summer camp holds even more mystique because you’re not sure what to expect. If first time counselor nerves are haunting you, don’t be so quick to call up and accept that unpaid internship filing paperwork in a stuffy office all summer and, for goodness sake, don’t accept that job at the hot dog stand in the local park. Instead, follow these tips to kick your summer into gear now:
1.) Relax! You are NOT the only first time staff member coming to camp. If you know no one else going to camp or have never been to camp, that understandably may be a pretty difficult concept to wrap your head around right now. But trust us! When you get to camp, you will be in good company. If you’re feeling a little bit lonely when you first arrive, don’t panic and automatically assume you’ve made a mistake. The majority of people who tend to be drawn to work at camp typically have laid back, easy going and open personalities with an extraverted bend toward making new friends. Chances are that after your camp’s staff orientation period, you’ll have several new friends for life and wonder why you ever even doubted coming to camp.
2.) Like your camp’s Facebook page and staff Facebook page if it has one. Social media has arrived and most summer camps are completely aware that the easiest and most effective way to communicate with their camp staff is through means such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. By liking your camp’s pages, you can make friends before camp, pick up a lot of useful tips, and even possibly connect with a rideshare if you’re looking for a way to get to camp. Most summer camps also now feature regular blogs. It’s a good idea to pop onto the camp webpage every now and then in the weeks leading up to camp to see what new blogs have been posted. Camps tend to post some blogs, such as this one, for which staff is the intended audience during the late spring and early summer.
3.) Don’t over or under pack. Packing lists are created by camp professionals who’ve spent enough summers at camp to know what you need to be comfortable for the summer. So read over the staff packing list, if your camp supplies one, when determining what to pack as well as what not to pack. Veteran staff members are also usually more than happy to field questions on staff Facebook pages, which makes them a good resource if you’re unsure about some items.
4.) Arrive with the right mindset; being a camp counselor really is the hardest job you’ll ever love. Camps tell prospective staff members this during the interview process…and they mean it. You are about to spend the summer working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life, and you will love most moments of it. There will also be moments during which you will question how in the world you ended up working at a summer camp and why you thought it was a good idea. Two things are essential to moving forward when these moments happen, and they’re actually most effective if you prepare yourself with them before you even get to camp. First, arrive with the right attitude. Yes, you’re there to work. You’re there to work hard. You’re also going to have a lot of fun creating amazing moments for and with your campers. Second, know what helps you alleviate stress or frustration and come prepared to engage in it should the need arise.
5.) Be in the moment. Yes, we spend our lives being told how important it is to plan. But at camp, it’s very important to be in the moment and be present with the campers. It’s how you’ll best appreciate the camp counselor experience as well. Summer camp lasts only a few weeks each summer, and things tend to move very quickly. On the first day, you’ll be looking ahead at a whole summer and thinking the end seems like a long way off. But on the last day of camp you will wonder where it went. Don’t find yourself with regrets on that day by realizing that you didn’t take advantage of every moment.
I’m the camp’s Program Director. I have a very unique job at camp as the person responsible for overseeing the daily scheduling of the camp’s daily activities. Even though it’s not one of the traditional camp jobs that comes to mind when people imagine working at a summer camp, it’s a crucial one. I like that it’s a perfect combination of behind the scenes with hands on.
One of the things I love most about my job is that I get the opportunity to get to know most of the campers and staff through daily interaction. I’m the person they come to with requests for their programs. I enjoy speaking with them about the things that are working in their activity areas and hear feedback about things that I might improve.
On those rare occurrences when the sun refuses to cooperate with the camp schedule, I get to demonstrate my creative talents by figuring how we can keep the fun going in all of our indoor facilities. I also enjoy getting out on campus every now to see for myself how the schedule plays out in real time. It’s a great time for me to take notes for the next schedule.
In the evenings, before I begin working on the next day’s schedule, I often participate in special events. Sometimes I judge activities. Sometimes I lead them. Other times, I host them or just keep score. The real reward of my job is when I overhear campers telling their counselors that they just had the best day ever as they’re heading off to bed in the evenings. It’s a great way to begin another day because just as everyone winds down their day at camp, I head back to my office to begin working on the next day’s schedule, ready to create another “funnest day ever!” for our campers. If you think working in camp programming sounds like a fun job, apply at one of America’s Finest Summer Camps today!
According to the American Camp Association (ACA), nearly 1.2 million people take on the adventure of working at camp each summer. They come from all over the world and all walks of life. Some of them are former campers while others have never experienced summer camp at all. Their educations are as diverse as their backgrounds and many of them choose summer camp over a traditional internship because of the unique, well-rounded work experience it provides. Whether the winter weather already has you thinking about what you’ll be doing this summer or you’re just browsing summer employment opportunities, it’s worth asking yourself, “Am I one in a million?” :
Summer camp staff come from all over the world. Increasingly, as summer camps recognize their unique position to promote a global community in a fun, relaxed environment, they are recruiting staff from near and far. The ACA reports that within the last decade “there has been an increase in the use of international staff to expose campers to different cultures.” If you live outside of the U.S. and you’ve been wanting to travel to the USA, summer camp is a great way to earn some cash while getting to intimately experience life here. If you’re an American and a trip abroad just isn’t quite in the budget, you need go no further than a residential summer camp to make new friends from all over the world—and pad your bank account while doing it!
If you think that being a former camper is a pre-requisite to being a great camp counselor, think again. Many camp staff members who return to camp year after year never even set foot on a summer camp campus prior to working at one. Like many of their colleagues, that one step was all it took. They were won over and continue to return each season.
Summer camp employment isn’t just for education majors and coaches. Increasingly, those with majors in the social sciences, sciences, math, engineering, and even medicine and nursing are finding a summer home at camp as an alternative to the traditional internship. Summer camp provides many unique experiences that one can gain nowhere else, such as a 24/7 commitment and the opportunity to simultaneously work with children and adults in a close-knit family type community. Summer camp also develops a diverse range of core skills valued by employers today. As a camp staff member, one must make split second decisions, be an efficient negotiator, use creativity to sell ideas and concepts, resolve conflict, solve problems, be an effective leader, know how to prioritize, be extremely flexible, accept change, and be awesome when it comes to multi-tasking. If it sounds like a big order, it is. But almost all who take on the challenge report that it’s also one of the most fun and rewarding experiences upon which they’ve ever embarked.
If you are an education major or a coach, have you thought of summer camp as an opportunity to build experience working with children ages 7-15? Working at summer camp develops many of the same skills that are often used in the classroom or on the field. Many educational institutions view summer camp experience as some of the most valuable on a potential educator’s resume.
How many traditional internships pay you AND provide you with room and board? In addition to a stipend for the summer, almost all residential summer camp positions offer room and board as part of their employment packages. What this means to you is that, potentially, everything you earn throughout the summer goes straight into your pocket…or your bank account, as the case may be. Even if you allow yourself a bit to splurge on sightseeing around the local area (many of America’s finest summer camps are located in some of the most beautiful parts of the country), it’s still possible to take home a substantial amount of cash at the end of the summer. This is particularly appealing when one considers how much rent and food can add up to over a summer.
If you’re looking for the summer job to beat all summer jobs, summer camp may definitely be your cup of tea. At summer camp, everyday will be a new adventure that takes you both indoors and out from sunrise to sunset. There are no cubicles, no computers (aside from computers available for staff to use on their free time), and no time clocks. And…there are beautiful surroundings, a camp full of campers who depend on you, a slew of challenges you never knew you’d face (and enjoy), and a circle of lifetime friends waiting to meet you. If you’re one in a million, what are you waiting for? If you are a college or university student, check your college’s upcoming career fair lineups. Many summer camps travel to universities to recruit this time of year. It may be possible to meet the first member of your future camp family in person. If your college days are behind you or there are no summer camps scheduled to visit your university, you can apply directly through Camp Laurel South’s web page.
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!