Sleepaway camp is a raucous, active place throughout the summer. Water skiers rush across the lake on any given day at camp, volleys bounce off the tennis courts, and guitar-strumming counselors lead campers in rounds of songs. It’s a big shift from everyone’s more sedentary habits at home, but the advantages of overnight camp’s full schedule of activities go beyond exercise and sing-alongs. Every summer, there is also a tremendous transition among campers, many of whom get a significant psychological boost.
Summer camp is one area that can help eliminate the roots of a child’s anxiety and despair that might be prevalent at home when children’s mental health issues continue to rise. A psychologist offers the following ways summer camp might help your child’s mental health.
Camp is the most highly social setting available, especially when contrasted to the numerous virtual experiences our children get at home. Being able to be out of the house all the time, living with other people, and feeling so much more connected to not just individuals your age, but also to the counselors and the camp family — the parents and dads of camp — having that in person, intensive social environment is significant.
It’s also an opportunity for genuine encounters, rather than ones that take place through text, when youngsters might be more cruel or distant, whether on purpose or not. Youngsters don’t always know how to communicate to one other face to face. During camp, social indicators like body language and eye contact help children understand what it’s like to be truly connected and foster more compassionate dialogue.
A Break From Social Media
Being at camp entails a vacation from social media and the associated fear of missing out (FOMO). A youngster can be much more aware of being left out of things on platforms like Life360, which can be quite distressing. And apps like Instagram place disproportionate emphasis on beauty and appearance.
While camp photographers do chronicle their stay at camp, such photographs are exclusively available to parents at home. There’s no peer pressure from within a social media platforms, so they get a big break from it all.
Break The Ties to Phones
Not only do students receive a vacation from social media, but they also get a respite from the continual pressures of reacting to peers on their phones. “There’s a lot of strain, especially on teens. I see that a lot in senior and upper camp; there might be a lot of pressure at home to always be on their phones, to not miss Snap[chat], to not ignore liking someone’s Instagram photo, to not ignore text messages.” According to a camp psychologist.
This may come as a surprise, but your children benefit from being apart from you as well.
We have a tendency to micromanage our children’s relationships, friendships, and hobbies, as well as their academic performance, and we know it. Our children deserve and, more importantly, benefit from a respite from the pressures of helicopter parenting.
For kids to not feel like we’re watching them and protecting them, we’re empowering them and teaching them how to manage all of these things. This, in turn, encourages independence and more mature thinking — and teaches children that there are other role models in the world besides their parents.
There is no question that the right staff can transform a camp from good to great and vice versa, which is why camps are working extremely hard to find outstanding staff members these days. Working at a summer camp fundamentally entails being in charge of the physical and emotional upbringing of kids, which is a duty that neither parents nor camp directors take lightly.
Working at a summer camp is a highly desirable position, not just because you’ll probably have more fun there than anywhere else and make friends for life, but also because it looks great on a résumé. There is no better job than camp for anyone looking to work in education or coaching, or for anyone whose résumé could need some padding in the areas of leadership, team management, communication skills, and organization.
Research, Research, Research
Make sure you spend some time looking for a camp you’re enthusiastic about before applying; doing so will make the application process and your summer much simpler. For instance, it might be crucial for you to select a camp that focuses on performing arts if you are certain that you want to pursue a career in music education. Here is a list of the various camp kinds we provide. Remember that most summer camps offer a wide variety of positions, so be sure to let the recruiting director know what you are interested in.
Establish contact with your preferred choice by sending a personalized introduction email once you’ve made a list of the camps you’re enthusiastic about. By using a personalized email as opposed to a pre-written one, you will make an immediate impression on the hiring director and demonstrate your friendliness, excitement, and communication skills—all traits that are highly desirable in camp staff members. Tell them in a few words in your email why you’re thrilled to be joining this particular camp. One fast technique to demonstrate that you have looked through their website and gotten to know them is to do this.
Authentically Sell Yourself
You must demonstrate how you will benefit the camp while submitting your application or when taking part in a live interview. Focus on giving the recruiting coordinator specific examples of when you have used your abilities rather to just explaining why you think you would be a good fit for the camp. The hiring director is only expected to believe you when you say, “I’m a great organizer,” but when you demonstrate your abilities through your accomplishments, such as, “I successfully led a small team by setting and maintaining deadlines, delegating tasks, and managing a budget,” you show what you are able to provide.
Camps value retention, so let them know if you’d like to come back for more than one summer. Simple statements like “I am working towards my degree in communications, therefore if this is a good fit, I would love to return for the next three summers” demonstrate self-assurance and foresight while also offering you a valuable competitive edge.
Many candidates make the error of simply discussing what the camp will do for them while discussing camps. While it may be TRUE to say things like “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,” your enthusiasm for a job does not show that you have the skills necessary to do the job well or that you can add value to the team. The best course of action is to carefully lay out how you and the camp would collaborate to add value for the campers.
At summer camps, relevant experience is vital. Although many individuals believe working at a camp will be a wonderful and carefree summer, the truth is that you won’t often put in longer hours or have to multitask as much. Bring up instances where you shown leadership, followed through on a plan, and went above and above to prioritize childcare in your life. Always remember that camp is all about the campers.
Stand Out From The Crowd
When you are confident that you have the fundamentals down, show off your personality! In most situations, the hiring director is looking for someone who can fulfill the duties of the position as well as someone who can embody the values of the camp while fitting into an established community. Your imagination will get you far when you have to hold the interest of groups of youngsters.
Any hiring director would pay attention to an application that stated: “Here are The Top 5 Reasons I Would Lead My Team to Victory in Capture the Flag.” It’s common for kids to feel at ease and free to be themselves at summer camp, and a lot of that has to do with how much they respect and look up to their counselors. You make it simple for the hiring director to recognize the attributes the campers would find appealing when you can exhibit self-assurance, a desire to be humorous, play, and interact with ease.
It’s a Job Interview. Treat it as such.
Despite the fact that camp is a “fun job,” professionalism must always be practiced. Your standard operating procedure should continue to include prompt communication, adhering to deadlines, and using good grammar and spelling.
Give your web presence a quick makeover before applying to summer camps. Ensure that you are okay with potential employers viewing anything on your social media platforms. Since parents and kids will likely try to look you up in the childcare industry, it’s always a good idea to just change your profiles to private. It’s only a more polished appearance; you have nothing to conceal or be ashamed of.
It’s always a good idea to write a brief “thank you” note following an interview. This extends a courteous and professional politeness while also reminding the hiring manager of you.
Practice Makes Perfect
You should practice a few topics you might wish to discuss if you get the chance to participate in an interview. Remember, it’s unlikely that you’ll stand out as a successful applicant if you go into the interview claiming you’re eager about the opportunity but have little knowledge of the camp’s mission, culture, or offers. Simply put, you must have knowledge of the camp for which you are interviewing.
To become aware of the pitch and cadence of your voice, practice is essential, even if it only takes a few minutes in front of a mirror. We often speak more quickly and more animatedly when we are anxious or excited. Try to slow down, breathe, and find techniques to relax your nerves! Speedy talking often devolves into rambling, but if you can control the urge to fill the quiet with chatter, you’ll be able to build some trust with your interviewer by projecting confidence and enabling them to speak and ask questions. Try to speak in your usual conversational voice when you attend a camp interview. With a little luck, this tactic will put you at ease and make the interview seem more casual and friendly.
Make sure you have some insightful questions prepared in addition to a brief practice session. In every interview I’ve ever taken part in, the question “What questions do you have for us?” has been posed. During the interview, you might get some of your questions answered, so write down more than just the bare minimum. Asking questions beforehand will demonstrate that you are interested in making the best choice and that you are genuinely considering this possibility.
Ready For The Greatest Summer Of Your Life??
Working at a summer camp can frequently be a life-changing experience, and many people proudly rank their time there among their happiest moments. We sincerely hope that this article was helpful to you as you started your search for the ideal camp for 2023.
When I speak with friends who work in other industries, I always tell them that if you have an applicant who has been a camp counselor and has a positive reference from that camp, they should move to the top of that pile of applications that are overflowing on their desk. A camp counselor is one of the hardest jobs out there. It is not all fun and games. Here is my list of the top 10 qualities you get when you hire someone who has been a camp counselor.
A good communicator: Camp counselors have to be able to communicate well with children, parents, coworkers, and superiors. This is different from any other job because parents leave the most valuable thing in their lives with us, their child. At our camp they have about 10 minutes to speak to the counselors and feel confident in them before they leave their perfect child with them for two weeks. That 10-minute conversation is one that will have a lasting impact on that parent. THEY WILL CLING TO EVERY WORD! If a child is sick or homesick, that same counselor is the one to call the parent to update them on the situation and ensure them that their baby is safe and being well cared for.
A life-long learner: When someone works in a camp setting, they learn that to be successful in camp and in life they have to realize they have a lot to learn not only about camp and their campers but also about themselves. Once they make that transition they are able to approach every situation in life with an “I want to learn more” attitude.
A self-starter: Most camps have between 25-150 cabin counselors. While they are given very good supervision, no one is holding their hand every step of the way. They very quickly learn that as far as their campers are concerned, THEY are the “go-to” person. If one of their children forgets a toothbrush it is their responsibility to get them one from the infirmary.
A resilient individual: Camp counselors can handle anything. Just ask the counselor who has been helping a camper overcome homesickness while teaching their activity in the rain for 4 days straight, only to learn that there is a child in their cabin with lice. When they hear this, instead of curling up in a ball and hiding (the way any normal person would), they grab their gloves, strip all the beds in the cabin, get all of the laundry to the cleaners, and get all the campers lined up outside to check each one for nits. I repeat, camp counselors can, and do, handle anything!
A problem solver: At camp we try to keep things very scheduled and organized, but at the drop of a hat, plans can change. Imagine walking out of the dining hall with 250 campers and staff to play sock war (like capture the flag but you get to throw socks at each other!) when you hear a loud burst of thunder and have to come up with a new plan in an instant.
A creative thinker: When you need a new plan immediately, leave it to a camp counselor to come up with the most brilliant and fun game that anyone has ever heard of. If you think a boardroom of 10 lawyers is intimidating try standing in front of 200 children who are expecting to have the most fun they have ever had and your plan that you have been working on all week just got rained out.
A detail-oriented worker: Remember, camp counselors are responsible for THE most important thing in a parent’s life. Each and every detail is unbelievably important! Did a child have enough to eat at breakfast, drink enough water, make a new friend, skin their knee, play soccer, miss their mom, have wet shoes, lose their sweatshirt . . . ? Now multiply this by a whole cabin of campers!
A leader: It does not matter if you consider yourself a leader or not, the moment children arrive on property their counselor is their leader and their biggest role model. They watch their counselor’s every move. It is amazing how quickly camp counselors learn how to take on this role and own it. The way these children talk about their counselors when they leave is a testament to what great leaders they are.
A team player: Camp counselors are some of the best team players you will ever meet. They have learned that they cannot do it all on their own and that the best product is produced when you have a team working on it. In a camp setting, you need all different personality types to be able to meet each and every child where they are. To come up with the most fun game, camp counselors know it won’t come from one person but an army of people working toward the same goal. Most people come into this job thinking they can do it all, but it does not take long for them to realize that this job is physically impossible alone.
A solid work ethic: It is very difficult to explain to someone who has never been a camp counselor how hard this job really is. These college students work 24 hours a day for 3 months with very little time off and they do all the things mentioned in 1–9 with a smile on their face.
Employers who themselves have been camp counselors understand the qualities required to successfully do this job and, consequently, often seek these individuals out when filling positions. But now the secret is getting out and having “Summer Camp Counselor” on a resume can make a potential employee much more desirable!
Anne Archer Yetsko is the associate director of Camp Merri-Mac in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She has worked for Merri-Mac for 12 years and is also a recent graduate of Touro University’s Camp Administration and Leadership master’s program. This blog was originally posted on the Merri-Mac blog, and later re-posted on American Camp Association blog.