February 12, 2021
College students and young adults face immense pressure to build their resumes through involvement in a variety of on-campus organizations, maintaining a high GPA and getting that perfect summer internship. In speaking with thousands of candidates every year, I know that these pressures weigh heavily on young adults, and at what cost?
I believe strongly that a summer spent at camp is not only the antidote to this pressure, but can also create a more well-rounded individual who develops essential work-force skills for any career. Successful employees in any organization are creative, resilient, have strong communication and problem solving skills and understand the importance of teamwork. There is perhaps no better environment than working at summer camp to develop these skills in such a short period of time.
Let’s dive into each of these skills and why camp is the best place to develop them; making you a more well rounded individual.
It does not matter if you consider yourself a leader or not, the moment children arrive at camp their counselor is their biggest role model. The way campers talk about their counselors is a testament to the leadership skills camp instills. You won’t only be a leader for the younger generation, you’ll also have endless opportunities to lead amongst your peers. You’ll learn when to step up and take charge; and when to step back and elevate other people to their greatest potential. Both integral roles at different moments. Former Disney CEO, Michael Eisner, summed it up when he described his days as a summer camp counselor as some of the most valuable leadership training he ever had.
Camp people are some of the best team players you will ever meet. In a camp setting you cannot do everything on your own and we need all different personality types and strengths to be able to meet each and every child where they are. You’ll learn to ask for help and how to work with a diverse group of people between the ages of 7 and 70, from all over the United States and across the world. Camp will teach you the importance of listening to other’s perspectives and the benefits of working with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
“Working at camp, I learned that the group was bigger than any one individual person and it was going to take collaboration to provide the best summer possible for all of the different kids attending camp. This has proven to be a valuable skill set in my career as collaboration, building teams and building consensus are key to any successful organization. - Former camp staff member and current VP of Production at ESPN.
While you’ll have a great supervisor and a strong support system, no one is holding your hand throughout the day. When plans change at the last minute, you will learn very quickly that you’re the ‘go-to’ person for your campers. You’ll deal with your fair share of stress, think on your feet and problem-solve throughout the day to face the myriad of challenges that may arise. The camp environment teaches staff to be solutions-focused, how to fail with grace and forge ahead to resolve any issue. Imagine confidently walking into an interview for your dream job and being able to explain how you effectively solved a problem thanks to, not in spite of, failing.
“As a former senior manager at Amazon.com in its early years, I leaned heavily on my ability to multi-task, be creative and problem solve. These are skills I learned in my years as a camp counselor - working with people of all ages from all over the world, collaborating on projects, valuing all levels of work and truly learning how to problem solve as a team. I am incredibly grateful for my summers spent working as a camp counselor – not only were they tons of fun, but I learned incredibly important career and life skills along the way.” - Former camp staff member and current Administrator of Gender Health Programs at Kaiser Permanente.
Creativity at camp is all about being resourceful and not defaulting to what’s traditional or easy. Our staff learn and improve upon their creativity each day. Maybe there is a new camper who will only eat yellow foods, or another who is afraid of heights. Regardless of the situation, you’re guaranteed to face situations you’ve never experienced before. In those moments, you’ll learn to adjust your perspective and think outside the box in order to help campers learn about themselves, overcome challenges and become more confident. Creativity is at the heart of what we do and you’ll build and improve upon this skill throughout your weeks at a CampGroup camp.
Camp staff learn to effectively communicate well with people of all ages, from vastly different backgrounds and cultures. At the end of your time working at camp, you’ll know the importance of both verbal and non-verbal communication. You will learn how to conduct yourself during performance evaluations with a supervisor, have difficult conversations, how to confidently talk with a parent of one of your campers, and how to patiently comfort an upset child. You will learn to tailor your communication style to the appropriate audience no matter their age or background.
“As a psychologist I often rely on many of the skills I honed in my five years as a staff member at a CampGroup camp. I learned to listen first, absorb, and then respond to my campers, co- counselors and parents. This is a skill I rely heavily on in my career as a Psychologist” - Former counselor and staff member, current practicing Psychologist.
Camp staff can handle anything. Instead of avoiding challenging situations, they handle them step-by-step, with a smile on their face. All because it needs to be done, not because anyone asked them to do it. At the end of the summer, you’ll know you can be positive in the face of difficulty. You’ll work 16 hours a day for 2 months with a smile on your face despite very little time to yourself. Working at camp proves you can be ‘on’ for extended periods of time while balancing your own needs with the needs of those around you. You’ll know that you can fail, pick yourself up, try again and not let it get you down.