Sunday Snippet: Want A REAL Job? Be A Camp Counselor!
“I want to work at WeHaKee again, but I have to get a REAL job this summer”. As camp directors, we have heard this lament many times and must admit that it hurts to hear that some consider the camp counseling opportunities we offer young women as only being imaginary or that they really don’t matter. Well, nothing could be further from the truth!
To be a successful WeHaKee Staff Team member, one needs to first embrace the mission, vision and values of WeHaKee Camp for Girls. Simply put, that means selflessly serving others to ensure each camper experiences a fulfilling and enriching experience, an experience that will positively impact our campers’ lives for weeks, months and years to come! This takes tremendous courage, energy and maturity on the part of each counselor which undoubtedly results in exceptional growth of that individual on many levels.
Not a REAL job? Well, consider the view of Time Magazine and Huffington Post contributor, Erika Christakis:
The stepwise leadership structure… can create the impression that camp jobs are not real work on par with college internships in the financial industry or working in a lab, but something more like a nostalgic hobby.
If we are serious about developing young leadership, we should get over these parochial views and take steps to make camp counseling more common. Employers and college-admissions officers need to hear how the camp-counselor experience prepares successful young adults through teamwork, empathy, cross-cultural understanding, ability to work with subordinates and superiors, creativity, working under pressure and managing with limited resources. Excerpt from Summer Camp: Can It Make Kids More Responsible?, Erika Christakis, Time Magazine
Erika echoes what more and more employers are understanding – that the camp counselor experience is one of the most comprehensive experiences one can have, exposing them to and enhancing their skills in a vast array of what many are now referring to as non-cognitive skills.
However, the view still remains that the internship is the key to any success beyond college. But consider this ~ The camp community is just that, a community that needs to provide a plethora of services to keep the community operating efficiently, effectively and vibrantly. So, to counter college advisors (and perhaps parents?) who insist on that summer internship, there is a mighty good chance that a summer at WeHaKee can provide just the experience needed! We have a strong track record of creating a variety of creative and inspiring internships for staff. We have done internships in business, communications, social work, education and more. So check in with us before you search elsewhere.
Given this, it is reasonable to conclude that internships provide few potential benefits for their laborious components. Not only are interns wasting time in their respective offices by performing arcane duties, they also are allowing their last free summers to go by the wayside. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, college summers are the last ones for which we will have a legitimate array of choices. Accordingly, students would be well advised to engage in activities that they would enjoy, as opposed to activities that they misguidedly believe will yield long-term benefits. To this end, there are more efficacies in volunteering, working in non-profits or even taking classes than doing an internship. However, the most benefit comes from being a camp counselor.
At my particular summer camp… I have learned many workplace skills that are more relevant than what I could obtain from an internship. For example, … I am fully integrated into the professional hierarchy. I am given great responsibility; indeed, I am responsible for the physical, emotional and mental well-being of up to seven children. Excerpt from Skip the Internship, Go to Camp, Darryl Brown, USA Today.
And for those who have already had the remarkable camp counseling experience for a summer, returning for additional summers is even more rewarding, empowering and meaningful. So we truly hope that our first year staff not simply have a ‘one year wonder’ experience, but will consider returning to enhance their knowledge, skills and growth in even more amazing ways.
As directors looking to create a skilled and supportive staff team, it is important to highlight the benefits and opportunities that a camp committment can mean to a college student and her future – it can be far more beneficial than many can or will acknowledge. Believe it or not, wearing crazy clothes, singing astonishingly silly songs and spending most of your day laughing and smiling is an ideal pathway to increased maturity, enhanced life skills and overall higher employability!
But the clinching argument came from my daughter’s impassioned defense of camp counselors, and her outrage that someone glancing at résumés would believe that a 20-year-old who fetches coffee at Google is more impressive than one who spends days and nights nurturing, teaching, organizing, comforting and inspiring.
“What I do there matters,” she insisted. In several conversations, she told us about helping a camper cope with her mother’s debilitating depression and comforting others whose parents were fighting or separating, about aiding 11- and 12-year-olds who were coming to terms with their sexuality, battling anorexia, confronting body fear. She talked about the many hours devoted to water-skiing lessons, about instilling the confidence needed by awkward, gawky, painfully self-conscious 8- and 9-year-olds to stay prone in the water, hold on to the rope, then rise up and stay on their feet as the boat pulled away. “What’s more important than that?” she asked. Excerpt from The Camp Counselor vs The Intern, Dan Fleshler, The New York Times
Oh, and what about that pesky money issue – “I won’t make enough money at camp”? If you simply compare the income lines, that may be the case. But don’t forget to also consider expenses. At camp there is no commute, parking is free, and most importantly meals and housing are free (NO, it is not deducted from your salary!). With a little self-control, it is very possible to save virtually every penny you make during the summer!
What you do as a camp counselor will matter! It matters immensely and will continue to matter to you and to the campers you connect with long after you depart camp. As a WeHaKee counselor will significantly make a remarkable difference in the life of a child (many, in fact!), but you will also experience an impact in your life in that will be profound, exceptional and lifelong as well!
Thanks for reading and have a great week!