Summer Camps: The Work Experience You Didn’t Know You Needed

At any age, from high school to college to beyond, becoming a summer camp counselor can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have outside of the classroom- and a great career decision. There are so many benefits to throwing on your hiking shoes and bug spray and taking a summer to go back to camp; here are some!

Becoming a leader on and off the campgrounds

When you’re a counselor, you wear many hats! You are in charge of large groups of children at a time and your job is to make sure they get from place to place and activity to activity, safely. There are few responsibilities greater than the safety of others, and managing that on top of scheduling activities, arriving on time, and making sure all the kids are having a good time can be a lot of work. There is something to be said for the time management, leadership, and communication skills you have the opportunity to grow as a camp counselor; here, you can explore and develop this skillset that you need to succeed in your career!

Oh, the people you’ll meet!

Living and working with a lot of people in close quarters – some of whom you may not get along with all that much – can be a test of patience for anyone. As a counselor and as a part of a larger organization, you have to learn to collaborate in order to create a positive atmosphere for the children and other participants, as well as you and your fellow counselors.

Oh, the connections you’ll make!

On the other hand, summer camp offers the opportunity to form close connections and relationships in an intimate setting. This is very different from the networking that likely comes to mind when you think of networking, but it is undoubtedly just as valuable. You can really get to know someone on a more personal level and there is increased accessibility to the “executives” and leaders of each camp. That level of familiarity that seems almost like second nature at a summer camp takes a very long time to develop in an office where your interactions with higher-ups can few and far between. These are more than LinkedIn connections, these can be future writers of letters of recommendation and people who think of you for opportunities they hear of. This summer can be a chance to let your character shine through and meet the people that could bring you to your next job.

Exposure to the non-profit sector

Some of the greatest summer camps out there, certainly the ones I was lucky enough to participate in, were all run by non-profit organizations. If you’re interested in a career for the common good, particularly working with non-profits, this experience allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the foundation of how they operate.

How to get started

There are countless camps that post jobs for the summer on Handshake, and you can search for positions based on location, job role and function, salary, and keyword among other things. These camps can range from Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to smaller local camps, and will each offer a truly unique and rewarding experience.

By Clarice Pennock
Clarice Pennock Career Intern