There’s no denying that great staff can turn a camp from mediocre to outstanding, which is why camps are making a concerted effort to hire extraordinary staff members every summer. Working at a summer camp entails being accountable for the physical and mental well-being of children, which is a job that no parent or camp professional takes lightly.
Jobs at a sleep away camp are highly sought-after positions, not only because you will have more fun than at any other summer job while also establishing lifelong friends, but also because it looks fantastic on your CV/resume. There’s no better job than camp for anyone expecting to work in education or coaching, or for anyone whose résumé could use some padding in the areas of leadership, team management, communication skills, and organization.
Here are our five most helpful tips for getting a great summer camp job.
1. Research, research, research.
When applying for summer camp jobs, take the time to select a camp that you’re enthusiastic about; this will make the application process and your summer much easier. For example, if you know you want to coach , you should look for a camp that puts a priority on sports programs. Remember that most summer camps have a variety of roles available, so be sure to express your preferences to the staffing manager.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, reach out to your top contender with an unique introductory email. A personalized email as opposed to a scripted email will help you stand out right away and will demonstrate to the staffing director that you are personable, excited, and communicative; all of which are attributes that camps look for in staff. In your email, explain briefly why you’re eager to join this particular program. This is an easy approach to demonstrate that you have spent the time and effort to get to know them.
2. Authentically Sell Yourself
You must demonstrate how you will provide value to the camp when submitting your application or participating in a live interview. Concentrate not only on why you believe you would contribute value to the camp, but also on specific examples of times you have exhibited your abilities. When you say, “I’m a great organizer,” the hiring manager is expected to believe you; however, when you outline your skills through accomplishments such as, “I successfully led a small team by creating and meeting deadlines, delegating tasks, and managing a budget,” you demonstrate what you are capable of offering.
Camps value retention, so if you have the capacity and desire to return for multiple summers, let them know! “I am working towards my degree in communications, so if this is a good fit, I would love to return for the next three summers,” displays confidence and vision while also providing a useful competitive edge.
When it comes to camps, many candidates make the mistake of focusing solely on what the camp can provide them. “This will be a great experience for me,” “I haven’t spent so much time outside in forever, I can’t wait to disconnect,” or “I always wanted to go to camp as a kid” may be TRUE – but your enthusiasm for a job does not demonstrate your ability to do the job well or help them understand the value you can bring to the team. Your best chance is to illustrate how you and the camp would collaborate to provide value to the campers.
Summer camps place a premium on relevant experience. While many people believe that working at a camp will be a fun and simple summer, the reality is that you will rarely have to work longer hours or do nearly as much multitasking. Consider moments when you acted as a leader, followed an idea through to completion, and went out of your way to make childcare a priority in your life. As a general rule, remember that camp is all about the campers.
3. Stand Out From The Crowd
Once you’ve established that you’ve covered the fundamentals, it’s time to let your individuality shine! When you have to command the attention of groups of children, your creativity will get you far, and in most cases, the hiring manager is looking for someone who can not only perform the responsibilities of the job, but also someone who can exemplify the values of the camp while fitting into an established community.
Summer camp is a place where kids feel safe being silly and free to be themselves, and a lot of that is because they look up to their counselors. When you show confidence in yourself and a willingness to be silly, play, and talk freely, you make it easy for the recruiting director to recognize the attributes that the campers would see in you.
4. Be Professional
Remember! This is still a job interview. Don’t overlook the standards of professionalism simply because camp is a “fun job.” Prompt communication, meeting deadlines, and using good spelling and language all should be focused on.
Before applying to summer programs, be sure to tidy up your online presence. Make sure you’re okay with potential employers seeing everything on your social media pages. It’s always a smart bet to set your profiles to private because, in the childcare industry, both parents and children will most likely try to look you up. It’s not that you have anything to conceal or are embarrassed about; it’s simply a more professional appearance.
It’s always a good idea to send a quick ‘thank you’ email after an interview. This serves to remind the staffing director of your qualifications while also providing a respectful and professional courtesy.
5. Practice Makes Perfect!
When you are given the opportunity to participate in an interview, you should prepare a few topics to discuss. Remember, if you go into the interview thrilled about the chance but know nothing about the camp’s mission, culture, or programs, you’re unlikely to stand out as a winning applicant. Simply enough, you must be knowledgable about the camp for which you are interviewing.
Another reason to practice, even if only for a few minutes in front of a mirror, is to become aware of your speech’s pitch and tempo. When we are nervous or eager, we tend to speed up and start talking at a mile a minute. Slow down, take a deep breath, and find strategies to soothe your nerves! Speedy talking often leads to rambling, but if you can resist the need to fill the space with chatter, you’ll help to develop trust with the interviewer by exhibiting confidence and allowing them to speak and ask questions as well.
People also have a ‘phone voice’ that is a few pitches higher than their normal speaking voice. Try entering a camp interview with your typical conversational voice. This simple technique may may put you at ease, making the interview feel more like a casual and friendly chat.
Make sure you have a few smart questions prepared in addition to a quick practice session. I’ve never been to an interview where the question “What questions do you have for us?” was not asked. You might get some of your questions answered during the interview, so be sure you have more than just the fundamentals written down. Having questions prepared will demonstrate that you are taking this opportunity seriously and are committed to make the best decision possible.