How Working at a Summer Camp Empowers Your Career

Andrew Ginn December 15, 2019


College is a time of discovering new ideas, interests, hobbies, friendships, and ways to move forward in the world. At the same time, there is also considerable pressure to find the most specialized options for advancing your skillset, leadership skills, resume and, ultimately, your career. But what if you could work towards career growth while also having fun and making an impact? We’ve got a few tips for finding summer work that is both fun and career-growth oriented.

What about Summer Camp?

Kids from all over the world have been leaving home and finding adventure and friendship at summer camps for over 100 years. In order for them to flourish, young adults, often college students, have been walking alongside them in powerful ways throughout these journeys.

At camp, these young adults serve as mentors, leaders, and friends, welcoming campers of all backgrounds, origins, and stories. These are big roles to fill and and it takes engaged people of deep commitment to fulfill them.

Overnight Camps vs. Day Camps

Overnight: Most traditional summer camps offer programs where campers stay overnight, often for one or two weeks. Counselors at these camps live in or near the cabin alongside the campers. Counselors work full days, help teach skills, and play games with their campers. They receive time off each week and are paid a salary. Along with salary and time off, camps often offer other benefits such as a staff lounge/center, bonuses, outdoor industry clothing and apparel discounts, and access to an alumni network. The staff serve closely as leaders and mentors, making a deep impact on children as they adventure away from home.

Day: There are incredible day camp programs offered by camps for local children within the nearby community. These programs often focus on fun: arts & crafts, nature hikes, and group games. Campers typically come around 8:00 am and leave around 5:00 pm. If you live near a day camp program this can be a great summer opportunity to meet new friends, give campers a positive role model to look up to, and make a little bit of money as well.

Where Do I Find Summer Camps?

If you’re looking in the U.S., there are a few important regions to consider when you begin your search. A great resource is the American Camp Association. This is the primary institution working to empower summer camps and set the standards by which they operate. There are camps all over the lower 48 with two major regions on the East Coast:

The Southeast: According to ACA’s website, there are 194 accredited overnight camps serving thousands of campers. From YMCA camps in urban communities to privately owned camps in the mountains of Western North Carolina, there are plenty of camps with great missions and programs.

The Northeast: Within the northeast, there are 462 ACA accredited overnight camp programs who are helping campers get outside and have fun in a variety of places.

What are camps looking for in their staff?

Staffing Directors are looking for individuals who have a desire to make an impact on the lives of children and youth, are concerned with their own growth journeys, know how to both have fun and work hard, and have an understanding that life is not just about them. They are looking for people who are about life.

Apply to several different camps and if you’re invited, interview with several camps so that you get a good sense of what their communities are about.

Here are a few tips for the process:

When you show up for the interview, whether in person or via a program like Skpe, demonstrate an initial understanding of their mission by looking through their website.

Dress as if you’re excited about the opportunity – employers want to see that you’re someone who cares enough about the position to dress well. Your favorite MEME t-shirt will never be a hit. Dressing well will empower you, too!

Ask good questions: Employers want to hear that you’ve thought through what they’re offering and how you’re considering spending your time. A question about the program, or how the interviewer got involved in the camp, or what makes them passionate about the work will go a long way.

What about Camp Rockmont?

At Camp Rockmont for Boys, our mission is to help campers grow through challenges, and gain a better understanding and respect for themselves and others (interdependence). We do this through group living and shared experiences, an appreciation and concern for the environment, greater self-reliance, deeper Christian commitments, and a greater understanding of the life and gospel teachings of Jesus Christ.

Our big hope, as we press into becoming hospitable people by welcoming and accepting campers and staff of all religious faiths and traditions, is to be a place where people can flourish.

Wherever you are this summer, look for a place where you can contribute and be invited into deep growth. If that place is at Rockmont, we’d love to set up an interview with you.

Andrew Ginn

Assistant Director for Staff Development

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