Why Work at Summer Camp?
And Convincing Your Parents That Working at Camp is Good for Your Career
One of the trickiest things about running summer camp is finding the quality of staff you need to run an excellent camp program. The reasons for this are somewhat obvious - we need great people to work at camp, and great people often have lots of options during the summer time!
We certainly respect this, but as people who have made a career out of being involved in camp work, we want to make a case for why working at camp this summer will not only be the most fulfilling option you could choose, but a very practical one as well.
And, hey, if this helps you convince your parents (or other concerned parties) that working at camp is a good idea, even better.
Why working at camp is the best decision you can make this summer
1) We can write you a better reference letter than anyone else.
Trying to get into a certain college or grad program? Applying for your dream job? You’re going to need references. Working at Stomping Ground means working closely with our director team, and it means we’re going to get to know you better than any other employer you’ve ever had. We’ll see you at your best (and your worst!), see how you respond to pressure, see how you manage time, see how compassionate you are, see how much initiative you take, and any number of other characteristics that future employers will want to know about you.
Future employers are going to want to know about YOU, and after writing dozens of recommendation letters for former camp staff from the past, we can confidently say we can do this as well as anyone.
2) Remember those important traits we’ll know about you? Well, you’ll get better at them.
It’s impossible to know what the economic landscape will look like 5 years from now, much less 20. Getting ready for the workplace these days means developing yourself. What no one tells you when you’re young is that most careers require extensive on-the-job training, and that very few specific skills you learn in high school or college will translate directly into the workplace. You know what will translate? Thinking creatively, adapting on the fly, taking initiative, learning how to better understand others, becoming individually responsible, and learning how to manage your time more effectively.
We have seen incredible growth in our staff members in all of these areas, and it’s no accident. In most internships and summer jobs, young adults are relegated to work below their capabilities because they simply aren’t trusted to take on greater responsibilities. If you want challenging work that will expand your worldview, camp is a great place to start.
3) You’ll just be more interesting in future interviews.
Most of the careers you’ll want to pursue will require an extensive interview process. As someone who’s interviewed countless people, I can tell you that the interviewees that stand out have a huge advantage. Generic answers about strengths and weaknesses just aren’t good enough anymore - you need to be able to speak to WHY you’re on this planet, and what you hope to do with your time here. If you have a great story to share, even better.
This summer you will inevitably encounter something you’ve never seen before. You’ll bask in the wisdom of some child who’s beyond her years. You’ll see how a single spark of creativity leads to an epic adventure for a dozen people. You’ll meet some courageous person who has dealt with more in this life than you ever thought possible. You’ll be tested, excited, tired, worn out, filled up, thrilled - you’ll have belly laughs, possibly cry, be someone’s shoulder to cry on, and come through when we need you most.
I remember asking an interviewee what their big takeaways were from their prior internship. They said, “It was good. Um….” If you work at camp this summer? Yeah, that won’t be you.
4) Your time will be spent meaningfully.
It’s all well and good to speak practically about the cold and calculated benefits you’ll get from working at camp, but it’s simply so much more than that.
As I think back on my many years in summer camping, I can say that I have specific stories and memories from every single week I’ve spent at summer camp. At this point that’s more than 100 weeks of fun, mud, laughter, friendship, and tears. Now try and think back on the last 100 weeks of your life. How many can you recall huge moments from?
Camp days are long, but the time flies by. THESE are the types of lives we want to lead, not the kind where we take a job at age 22, sleepwalk for 43 years, and retire someday. You want this kind of life for yourself. Your parents want this kind of life for you. Get a running start on the life you want for yourself this summer. If you get in the habit of living meaningfully, you’ll be a lot less likely to settle for less later.
5) You’ll like yourself more.
As humans, we’ve evolved to help one another. We’re the most successful species on the planet specifically because of our cooperative nature. Our ability to nurture the youngest among us, to show them the ropes, to give them space to be themselves, and to fiercely love them for exactly who they are is what makes us so incredible.
If you don’t know the feeling of making the difference in the life of a child, you need to. And I don’t mean helping them with their homework, or teaching them how to play soccer. I mean helping them learn to love what they see when they look in the mirror. Kids will remember you well into their adulthood. They’ll tell stories about you to their spouses, remember your kindness when they get down on themselves, and try to be a little bit more like you.
It’s a rare person who makes a difference in the life of a child and doesn’t stand a little taller afterwards.
6) You’ll make lifelong friends.
You just will. You can’t do work this important and not find people who get you. You’ll meet other young adults who understand that life is more than just dollars and cents. You’ll have more in common with them than the people you happened to grow up near, than people who happened to choose the same college as you, or who like the same sports team.
Camp is more than just a summer job. It has the chance to change your life. To define your life, even. Now when it’s all said and done it might wind up being one summer among many, a thing you did once, and left behind for other pastures. But if your experience is like mine, it might be the best decision you ever made. Don’t you owe it to yourself to find out?