Why Working At Summer Camp Is Perfect For Students
Working at a summer camp is, without doubt, a trip of a lifetime.
Ask anyone who’s worked one and they’ll all say it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done. The impact you can have on the development of children is unlike any other role you'll likely ever have. Couple that with being able to do something you love and you've got the ingredients for a summer to remember.
When I was younger, I never knew the opportunity existed to do something like summer camp. My first job role was in retail, so I’d find my summers were taken up indoors. I remember thinking I’d much rather be outdoors working, than doing a stocktake indoors. I’ve always been a very active person, but once you find yourself needing to pay the bills, it can be tough to find a new line of work that you enjoy. Or, it's too much of a risk to give up what you currently have. Both are tough scenarios.
That’s why I wish I knew of these different opportunities, such as summer camp. They’re out there; it’s about finding them.
Summer camp work is in no way just for students, it’s for absolutely anyone who wants to do something they enjoy, whilst making an impact. But the first it came to my attention, was through university. Most universities will actively promote cultural exchange programmes, such as Camp Leaders, as they know the benefits it can have for students. As someone who loves traveling, summer camp provided everything I would ever want in a role. If you're a student and you're feeling like there's got to be more to get from summer, then I’ve broken down why working at a summer camp is ideal for you.
Summer camp fits between your studies
When searching for summer jobs, it can be very difficult for students to land one for the summer months. This can be because employers only want to invest time/resources into those that can stay with them.
The fact summer camps actively seek summer staff, as well as the dates falling between terms, makes it perfect for students. Camp starts early to mid June, with it running through to the middle of August. So even with some travel time at the end, students are still back with enough time ahead of the next academic year.
You’ll be leaving with loads of memories and none at the expense of your studies.
Share experiences and make an impact
One of the main reasons summer camps look for overseas staff is cultural exchange.
Your past experiences and background is different to that of the campers and you can add to their development with the advice you can give. Within this role, you’ll become a positive role model to a lot of the younger generation and they will love hearing your stories.
Not only will you become a global citizen by working abroad, but so will the campers. They are interacting with people from all around the globe and this is a super important trait to develop at a young age.
Connect with nature
Just about all camp activities have the outdoors at the heart of it.
I’m naturally an ‘outdoorsy’ person anyway, but if you were a similar student to me, you would’ve lived in the library (well, at least near the submission deadline, anyway..). I remember getting to about March/April time and being sick of the sight of four walls and a computer screen.
Camp is naturally outdoors. Where I was based in Wisconsin, the camp was in the middle of the woods, with a lake in the middle. My workplace, the ski docks on the Wisconsin river, was a short ride away. My morning, afternoon and evenings were all spent outside and I only saw four walls when I was eating, or in bed.
This was one of the most refreshing changes I have ever had. The phrase “a change is as good as a rest” rung true. I needed an escape from the indoor life and summer camp provided it. It was such under-recognised benefit, that I only truly realised when I was there.
When the ‘work office’ changed from a cubicle to the driver's seat of a powerboat, I fully accepted how grateful I was to connect with the outdoors.
Unplug from technology
I can admit that I use my phone too much.
If you want a scare, check out “Screen Time” on your iphone. Not only will it tell you how long you flitter away, but where you do so. My phone sucked time like a leech, with ever present notifications meaning your phone doesn’t let you go. Of course it’s not the phones fault, if used wel (and with restraint) it can be a great tool. Instead, I watched more videos on social media than I care to remember.
During the day, if I wasn’t working or at university, I’d be on Football Manager. In the evenings, I’d stick the TV on, or watch Netflix. To fill the boredom between them, I’d slip back into the grasp of my phone.
I know I’m not the only one, as our generation are far too dependent on technology. Summer camp, for me, helped start to wean me off it.
Your role at camp will no doubt be outdoors. You’ll have incredible days, ones where you’ll leave the phone packed away and not because you have to. There’s moments where being present far outweigh the need to connect to the internet. Water over WIFI is the order of the day. Take it in, because you don’t realise how lucky you are to have a job where you’re able to connect with nature the way you do at summer camp.
For me, seeing a 'smooth-as-glass' Wisconsin river at 7am, with the temperature already above 20 degrees, beats the office cubicle life.
Gain experiences from around the world
“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it’s all there. Everything influences each of us and because of that I try to make sure that all my experiences are positive.” - Maya Angelou.
Don’t keep having the same experiences over and over. Look at getting out of your comfort zone. Try new things and feel new experiences. As the quote above recognises, they will all add up and form who you are, so gaining these positive memories can only affect you in a positive way.
Your development relies on it and summer camp provides experiences by the dozen. Personally and professionally, you’ll gain an incredible amount through summer camp. New skills, training, qualifications, new friends, confidence, problem-solving, the list goes on.
You name it, you’ll get it from working abroad at summer camp.
Opens you to new perspectives and cultures
Whether you realise it or not, you’ll open yourself up to learning about new perspectives and cultures by going to summer camp.
When I went to summer camp, I worked in America, at a Jewish overnight camp (although I’m not Jewish) and amongst a multi-cultural, diverse staff team. The children at camp were many different nationalities, including American, Israeli’s, French and more.
The amount I’ve learnt and the stories I’ve heard beats any book or article I could have read.
You learn more when people aren’t all saying the same thing. You hear different sides of stories. You learn about different upbringings. You see of different ways of dealing with scenarios. This all, whether you realise it or not, shapes your own approach to life.
If you only ever seen things from one point of view, you’ll see a very limited amount.
You’ll earn money for your travels
Working abroad goes hand-in-hand with seeing more of the world.
To do so, you need to earn something. The good thing about working at summer camp, is that your main costs are paid for. Accommodation? Sorted. Meals? They’re in. Once you’re there, it’s up to you how you spend you hard earned cash. By all means enjoy the hallowed aisles of Walmart. But don’t go throwing hundreds of dollars away on things you don’t need (trust me, at camp, you don’t need new clothes each week, you’ll no doubt wreck them anyway). It’s almost a rite of passage for most who work at camp for the first time, that experiences take over from possessions as what you seek out.
The wages you earn, which tend to be paid every two weeks, are hard-earned. You’ll want them to go towards something special; and they will. Whether on your d’offs, or your travels after camp, you’ll use your wages to see things which will remain with you for the rest of your life.
The entire process is managed for you
From application to arrival, it’s sorted.
I can’t stress how difficult I thought it would be getting a job at summer camp.
For so long, I was 50/50 about going. I was researching the in’s and out’s, the ‘what’s included’, the FAQ’s and what would happen if I lost my baggage (yes, I’m an over-thinker). Throw in the fact I was midway through some heavy university assignments and I nearly scrapped the idea altogether.
I ended up taking the plunge and calling Camp Leaders to get my questions answered. From that very point, I focused on being excited to have the summer of a lifetime working abroad. I wouldn’t know where to start in finding camps to work for and nor do I have to. What should I put on my application and how do I write it? What do camps even look for in an applicant?
Honestly. Don’t worry.
It’s all explained and it’s all straightforward. I had phone calls, prep days, guidance, you name it. By the time it came to leave, I had already been put in touch with others departing from the same airport and taking the same route. Not only was I in the same boat as loads of other people, but they were as equally prepared and excited as I was.
Being a student, you’ve got enough going on to cloud your future plans. Your studies are vitally important and it's good that you're attaching effort to that importance.
But when summer comes around, it's just as important to unplug from it all.
Recharge. Try something new.
Take some time away from the screen and look at planning what you’d love to do next summer. Hopefully, I’ve been able to lay out some of the benefits you get from working at summer camp and I’m guessing by your final assignment submission, you’ll be ready for a trip away.
Make it something meaningful; you won’t regret it.