We often encourage students to pursue internships or part-time jobs for the summer to gain experience for their resume. Often times, working at a summer camp may not be perceived as the best “professional” environment to work in. I can attest to this from personal experience. In my time working at a camp, I have been known to wear some cool graphic t-shirts, swim trunks and sandals. However, there are transferable skills in these positions and multiple opportunities to develop personally and professionally.
Yes, this is a picture of me working at a YMCA Camp and completely covered in mud. Not necessarily the photo to use on my LinkedIn profile, but I have used my time at that camp well. I have worked for a co-ed residential summer camp in southeastern Tennessee for four summers. I began as a Junior Counselor and rose to the Summer Program Director, eventually supervising all staff, scheduling and programming for the summer camp. This illustrates point number 1: Leadership. Many different professional opportunities are looking for leadership. Simply saying, “I’m a leader” doesn’t quite cut it; you need to have strong, clear examples of leadership experience. At a camp, you can gain experience actually leading and you can then show that on your resume. If you work there for a longer space of time like I have, there is definite chance for mentoring other counselors and you can gain some great interpersonal skills as well.
Point number 2: you didn’t just watch kids for a week. Some people can get caught up in “it’s just a summer job,” but there are some real skills in those positions that can be used on your resume later. Supervision, enforcement of safety protocols (archery, climbing, high ropes, low ropes, boating), certified in CPR and First Aid, scheduling, programming, speaking in front of large audiences, collaborating with other staff, etc. Your role is not simply watching someone’s child for a week. You need to take the time to delve into the role and bring out the responsibilities and the unique experiences you had there.
Point number 3: experience working with youth. I think this is a really important factor because all age ranges are different. If you’re an Early Childhood or Education major, this is a wonderful opportunity to gain experience with a wide array of ages. If you’re doing a practicum for a semester, you may only get experience with a single grade, but over an entire summer, you may get the chance to reach multiple age ranges. And it’s no secret that youth can be a difficult population to work with; however, if you can make it in a cabin of thirteen 7 year olds by yourself while your co-counselor takes a sick kid to the infirmary, you have proven to me that you’ve got some great skills working with younger children (spoken from experience of two summers in Hudson Cabin, 7-9 year olds. They were a handful.)
If you’ve never work at a camp, here are the things you need to know:
- There are different camp types: residential camps mean that it’s an overnight camp. Day camp means they get dropped off early in the morning and picked up in the afternoon/evening. Residential will most likely give the most meals and housing, while this varies for day camps.
- It is the most tiring job you will ever have, but it is the most fun you will ever have.
- You have to be willing to look silly or goofy. Example: during a skit we put one of the counselors in the “Wheel Barrow of Shame.” The wheel was flat and she fell out 10 seconds later. YOLO.
4. The experiences you have there will be some of the most memorable and valuable you’ll ever have. You build great relationships with your friends and you become part of that camp’s community.
If you’re interested in potentially working at a summer camp this coming summer, the UGA Recreation Leisure Studies Department is having an event just for you!
They are hosting a Summer Camp Job Fair on Monday January 28th from 5:00-8:15PM at the Ramsey Center. This will be a wonderful event to network with possible camps if you’re interesting in working at one or if you have any questions.
I highly encourage a job at a summer camp. It is a rewarding experience for sure. I have made some amazing friends and have had four amazing summers that I will always value and cherish. And I have become a part of this camp community. Every time I visit, I get to reconnect with all the wonderful campers and their families. They will always talk to you about those funny songs you sing, or that time you dressed up as a leprechaun, or that awesome prank against another cabin.
I leave you with this gem: this is me in overalls with a banjo. I don’t know how to play the banjo, but the kids thought I looked cool (I guess this lines up with dress up for the job you want? Right?)
Once again, check out the Summer Camp Job Fair on the 28th! Over 35 camps will attend, all searching for potential hires! Check out their Facebook event!
As always, it’s been real. It’s been fun. It’s been real fun.