I Need A Hero!!!
Types of Camp Jobs
Working at a camp is not about the pay. Whoa! Wait, what? Indeed, most camps will tell you this. Camp jobs usually don’t pay well. Yet, they attract people who are very passionate about working with kids, in a community of others with similar goals: to be engaging and uplifting role models for children.
Wouldn’t it be nice if camp WAS as easy as pressing a button? Kids come to camp, we press this button, and the outcome is fun and adventure when they leave? Yup, that’d be sweet. Fortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Why fortunately? Making easy money is great! Yes, and there are surely jobs out there that fit this “press the button” model. Fortunately, working at camp is difficult. Fortunately you learn an abundance of skills because it is difficult. Fortunately you will be stronger, wiser and willing to challenge yourself in many ways because of camp’s difficulty. Fortunately, you are here YOU get to experience the wonderful and wild side of life with them, as guides, as educators, as friends.
What are you passionate about?
So many things to do, so little time. Literally. There is an incredible amount of preparation that makes a summer camp run. From programming to maintenance to car repairs to staff training to ordering food to assigning bunks … the list goes on and on.
And, there are different types of camps and the theme/philosophy/overall structure of a camp counselor will vary depending on the camp. And, in general, the role of a counselor will be very consistent across the board. There are other jobs at camps, too! There are usually food service/kitchen jobs, maintenance jobs, coordinating positions (director, assistant director, program director, other leadership positions), and some camps have specialty support roles specific to that camp’s goals. Below are some different roles at camp and a brief of what is involved in that role.
- Role model:
- Be a hero
- Role model the growth you wish for your campers. Children are very perceptive, aware, and curious. They will look deeply at how you represent yourself, they may notice things you do but try and hide, and will also notice your quality. Be the change you want to see in the world.
- Ensure both the physical and emotional safety of campers. Kids can be adventurous, and camp can be a great place for them to explore new and engaging forms of play. Do the risks of that play outweigh the benefits? Camps vary in their risk management policies and look to you employ those policies. Equally critical is how safe a child feels socially, amongst his or her peer group and with the adults at camp. If a child doesn’t have emotional safety it’s likely they won’t grow, and may regress.
- Selflessness can be different than martyrdom. It can be an emotional state where being giving, without expectation of return, is uplifting and life building. Like sleep, everyone has needs, and we must meet these needs if we are to be helpful to others; If you have a strong need for alone time, being a camp counselor may not be for you, if you have a need to contribute, to give, being a counselor may be a great way for you to fill that need.
- In leading teaching and activities you won’t need to be a master at archery or art to help kids discover passion and in that activity. You will need some ability, but more important is having fun and passion yourself.
- Potential for fun exists at all points of the day! Creative play is an important factor in childhood development. It can happen during meals, hygiene, transition times, or any “down time” that the campers have. They may only need your support in creative play, or they may look to you to lead them in having fun, being wacky, telling wild stories, ad infinitum.
- Child Development/Empowerment:
- Lead children in intentional and constructive moments. Kids might talk all day about their favorite movie (see character development), and that may foster community and bonding if it’s a shared interest and all are included in the conversation. Be their guide in conversations, aim to include all members of the group, steer un-healthy or unconstructive moments towards actions which uplift individuals and strengthen group dynamics. Be integral. Be you.
- Assist them in communication and relationship development. Help them explain what they mean, what they feel, to understand their own motives, and the motives of others. Help them find healthy ways they can satisfy those motives.
- If you like preparing food, cooking for campers and staff can be a really fun way to be part of camp culture. Camps vary greatly in the quality of food prepared and the demands, compensation, and opportunities of kitchen staff. A camp may keep kitchen staff completely separate from all other parts of camp life, or kitchen staff may be invited to be part of the evening campfires or any other part of camp as time allows. Food may be inexpensive cafeteria-style nourishment or it may be more like a quality home cooked meal.
- Camp Director: Every camp has at least one. The camp director provides the overarching vision and direction for the camp, is accountable for everything at camp. If the camp is a non-profit the Director likely reports to a board of directors, and if privately owned it may be the owner or someone hired by the owner/corporation to run the camp. If you are passionate about “camping” and wish to make a life of it you may someday choose to seek a position as a camp director.
- Assistant director/program director: Many forms of intermediate administrative positions exist at summer camps and these roles are often filled by experienced camp counselors with significant leadership and organizational abilities. These are the people who schedule activities, run trainings, get counselors what they need to do their job, and lend support and expertise wherever it is needed. Depending on the camp and the roll these leadership positions may be seasonal or year around.
- A lot goes in to making a camp run smoothly: infrastructure, materials and supplies, special activity related support, and more. If you have a special skill you are passionate about you may find a camp where you can use your skillset while working with kids.
Summer Camp – Beyond the CTF Borderlines
If you haven’t worked at camp before, that reference may make no sense. Let me tell you, that after working a summer at camp, you will know what CTF is. I’ll leave that up for you to discover 😉
Anyhow, camp extends its tendrils to many different corners of the world. It also affects many of us on a vast array of levels of the heart. Depending on how you experience your camp experience, it can be life changing. It can also be something that you’ll never want to do again, which can be taken humbly and experienced through joy, as well
Camp can be a very, very important part of a child’s social development. Wouldn’t it be neat if we could run camp 365 days of the year? That would be a lot of smores. Also, that would be quite narrow in scope. You see, we must experience life outside of camp, too. And in that way, camp can be a gift to parents and their way of being with their children after a summer at camp.
Counselors connect through many avenues, such as parent letters, for instance. Camps believe in the power of partnering with parents. Family is central and critical in providing a healthy upbringing to kids lives for the other 350 days of the year. Below are a few links on how to foster that connection between parents and campers as a counselor. And of course, foster that connection with yourself
Other Counselor Skills That Will Blow A Hiring Team’s Mind, Seriously!!!!
If this peaks your interest, check out many of our open source materials here!