Despite what you may think, there are benefits to working at a summer camp that extend beyond the fun and friendships. In addition to being a joyous experience, summer camp jobs also provide a unique opportunity to gain valuable skills and knowledge that can add credibility to your job history. When properly outlined on your resume, your summer camp job will translate into a highly beneficial work experience that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Before we dive too far in, we know that many of you may be deciding if a job at a summer camp is even the right decision for you. Many summer camps are predominantly staffed by college students, meaning you may be trying to decide if a summer camp is as practical a choice for you as an internship might be. If this sounds like you, be sure to check out our article, Summer Internships, before reading on about all of the ways camp skills look great on a resume.
There are many lifelong skills you will have the opportunity to practice at summer camp that are also in-demand at any workplace. On this page, we are going to take a look at five specific skillsets with examples of how summer camp will offer you experience in each. Keep in mind that the details will vary from camp to camp, but the hard-skills detailed below should be fairly universal no matter which camp you choose!
Top Five Resume-Boosting Skills You Will Gain at Summer Camp
A summer at any camp will quickly give you the kind of leadership experience that might otherwise be unheard of on a young professional’s resume. If you are hired as a counselor, you will be solely responsible for the care and support of a group of children. Making sure five pre-teens are showered, at breakfast on-time, are wearing sunscreen, know their schedule, and have their water bottle with them will all be on your to-do list before 9 am!
In addition to the standard day-to-day care of your campers, you will also act as an educator at a variety of activities. Your role could involve some level of responsibility for the care and maintenance of the clinics you teach, giving you work experience as an area lead.
You may also be tasked with the added responsibility of mentoring a junior counselor, which would involve not only supervising their growth, but also offering feedback on their experience.
At the end of one summer at camp, your resume would be able to proudly boast words like: Supervisor, Mentor, Educator, and Primary Caretaker – all excellent markers of leadership.
Have you ever heard of the phrase “Like herding cats”? It’s often used as a way of describing a hopeless attempt at organizing a group, and it can easily describe a day at camp, unless, that is, you master your communication skills!
There are many moving parts that make a summer camp successful, and it will be up to you to communicate what both you and your campers need. Daily communication between you and your leadership team will be vital, and you’ll need to be able to communicate, in advance, things like “I will need five pairs of scissors for a craft my cabin wants to do”, or “We need an extra sleeping bag and breakfast packed for an overnight trip”.
Communicating with your leadership team is just one part of the equation; you will also need to successfully navigate communicating with groups of children. Effective delegation skills will be necessary when it comes to cabin organization, empathy will be put into practice if a camper feels excluded from a group of friends, and conflict resolution will be necessary for mediating quarrels.
Your communication skills will be put to the test simply by living and working so closely with so many other people. Living in such a small and tight-knit community will lend itself naturally to teamwork and collaboration, both as a part of the job and as a part of your life at camp.
- Planning and Organization
Planning and organizing your campers’ day-to-day schedules will be a basic requirement of being a camp counselor. You will also be responsible for managing your own time by knowing which activities you are teaching, what will be expected of you during the evening activity, and meeting deadlines for things like letters to parents.
Additionally, working at a summer camp gives you experience in taking ideas and seeing them through to completion. Practice in this kind of development is highly valued, as this kind of management experience can be hard to come by. Getting practice in providing developmental feedback while at camp can be as simple as doing research on a new kind of paintbrush to use in arts and crafts, or as complex as developing an entirely new clinic or evening game. Even seemingly simple tasks like planning a scavenger hunt for your cabin or planning a group picnic for counselors on a day off are great examples of putting this skill to use.
- Public Speaking
Even the most introverted of camp employees will likely be found happily singing and doing comedic sketches or storytelling around the campfire. However, if skits really aren’t your thing, your public speaking skills will still be put into practice by teaching clinics and activities to groups of campers. Public speaking may not feel like an applicable or particularly useful skill to all jobs, but the confidence you’ll gain over a summer at camp will be enough to make an impression at any interview you’re invited to.
Long hours and handling emotional emergencies are a part of the day-to-day life of a camp counselor. Realistically, there are not many other jobs where will you be on the clock for 23 hours a day six days a week. Camp counselors must be resilient to work so hard for so long.
Hand-in-hand with this resiliency will be the necessity to be adaptable. You can certainly expect the unexpected at summer camp, and it’s likely that more than a few times, you will have to act on your feet when things don’t go to plan. Self-reliance and creativity will become second-nature after a season of working at a summer camp.
- Bonus! International Work Experience
Many summer camp employees are hired through international hiring agencies, meaning that a summer in America is accessible to hopeful employees across the globe. Working abroad is a highly valued addition to a resume as it shows quality characteristics like curiosity, initiative, self-sufficiency, and courage. If you are considering working abroad at an American summer camp, check out our resource here!
If you want to learn more about the benefits of working at a summer camp, we highly recommend that you check the resume guide found on Camp Augusta’s Staff Experience page. It offers an excellent breakdown of camp responsibilities with resume examples and even helpful interview prep.
Want to learn more? We make it our mission to gather all the necessary information to help you find your perfect camp job.