Residential overnight camps are for many, a logical summer job choice while in college. Perhaps you want to try living somewhere new, hope to meet new people and maybe even learn a few things – not to mention food and housing are usually included! THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A CAMP COUNSELOR: Most will say it is one of the hardest, most exhausting, yet exhilarating and rewarding jobs they’ve ever had. It’s not uncommon to feel everything from relief that it’s over to sadness that it’s time to leave. Even if at the end of camp you are ready to hop in the car and speed into the next chapter, the experience of being a counselor often becomes a powerful source of strength and a knowledge base from which you can draw on throughout your life! Let’s take a look at some of the intrinsic long-term benefits of working at a summer camp:
1. Gain experience working with kids. Even if you aren’t an education, psychology, or social sciences major as many camp counselors are, working with kids provides you with opportunities to be empathetic, problem-solve, be creative and silly, and learn new ways to relate to others. Not to mention, most people will become parents, aunts, uncles or have some other special relationship to a child. Kids offer adults amazing opportunities and lessons that, hopefully by having an opportunity to work with them, you can learn to appreciate and enjoy even more! Reading about it in a textbook is one thing; it’s quite more powerful to experience it.
2. Gain leadership experience. Campers think the world or their counselors. They write songs to their counselors and imitate them. As a counselor you really get to feel the responsibility for actions on others. Also, you may be asked to teach an activity while ensuring not only the safety of the campers but also make it fun and exciting for them. Regardless of what title you might have later on in life, you can develop the characteristics like integrity, being accountable, and compassionate – which are all traits every employer, partner, and friend look for, making you a more valuable asset to their lives.
3. Experience truly putting others first. This probably doesn’t sound like a long-term benefit at first – but consider that many counselors will become parents! The communal nature of camp life often requires counselors to put the group’s needs ahead of their own. Sure, there are plenty of times throughout summer to have fun with just other staff member. There are also many moments where counselors are asked to create an experience for the campers despite their own current desires. The best staff members take these opportunities to let go and loose themselves in the moment – often ending up covered in shaving cream or singing at the top of their lungs!
4. Gain independence by making new friends and being in a new environment. As a camp director, the most common evaluation response I read is something like, “I never thought I’d make so many great friends, so quickly.” Not only might you gain some places to stay in other parts of the world, but also you’ll have a base of folks who care about you even though you tell cheesy jokes and they know what you look (and smell) like after not showering for a few days. It also can give you the confidence that you can go into a new experience, not knowing anybody, and come out successful.
To find out more about the benefits of camp counseling, go to www.rockbrookcamp.com/staff.