10 Reasons Why Teens Should Work at Summer Camp
By Lauren Greenlee
- It Beats Any Other Summer Job. Would you rather flip burgers, wash cars or make a difference in a kid’s life? Make no bones about it—camp counseling does involve real work. But a huge component of that work is leading kids in games, crafts and sports. So, you get to have fun, set an example for a younger generation, get a huge dose of vitamin D and, did I mention, have fun.
- You Get Training That Serves You Beyond Camp. Camps typically require that counselors and counselors in training (CIT’s) receive some form of specialized training, whether online or in-house, on topics like conflict resolution and how to handle bullying or inappropriate behaviors. But camp staff are also schooled in first aid and CPR. Together, these skills can serve counselors well into their adult years.
- You Get To Unplug. Working at camp is not a desk job. It involves lots of time outdoors. Counselors are also encouraged to keep unplugged from their devices, which grant them the opportunity to have a much needed screen detox. Time offline in a positive environment helps counselors develop stronger communication skills and build relationships over shared experiences and meals.
- You Get to Be a Role Model. Young adults are often given a bad rap for being self-absorbed. Counseling, in contrast, requires camp staff to focus on helping others. Serving a younger generation is a win-win, giving kids someone to look up to while also helping young adults strive to be better examples. And what many camp staff come to find out is that it’s not a sacrifice to serve. In fact, being a role model feels good. “The kids challenge me in my own faith and make my spiritual relationship stronger,” Maddy Palodichuck, an ORU junior hailing form Olathe, says of her experience working at Youth Front Camp.
- You Grow Strong Leadership Skills. Whether directing staff meetings or managing kids activities, there’s no doubt about it: Camp counselors enjoy their fair share of leadership opportunities. For some staff, this brings to light natural abilities. For others, it provides an opportunity to grow a new skill set. Regardless of a teen’s personality or bent, every young adult is better for having the chance to be in charge of something. One of the biggest leadership abilities counselors gain is public speaking skills. Seldom do teens have the opportunity to command a large audience of students. At camp, counselors can do so in silly and zany ways, which not only engages campers, but takes the edge off of most people’s biggest fear (public speaking).
- You Get Paid to Have Fun. A big component of being an effective counselor is creating an environment that fosters joy and enthusiasm. In short, if you want the kids in your cabin to have fun, you have to show them how to do it! Counselors are not only leaders and role models, but they also get to be big kids and risk takers. It means showing off your inner goof by launching off the Blob or channeling your inner diva during karaoke. When you take your guard down and show kids it’s alright to take risks, you give them the freedom to do the same. Perfection isn’t the goal. Bravery is.
- The Dress Code Is to Die For. At camp, every day is casual Friday, and the uniform of choice is typically some variation of a t-shirt, athletic shorts and Chacos. And who can forget the fun themes that transpire over the course of a camp week—wacky Wednesday, anyone?
- You’ll Forge Deep Friendships. If you were a camper growing up, then you know how special camp friendships can be. Being a counselor is no different. Camp staff are a diverse group, with counselors coming from other schools, churches, states and nations. Working at camp, you can expect to make a broad range of friendships built over time spent living, working and playing together.
- You’ll Build a Resume and Good Interview Material. Working at camp shows you what you’re made of. You’ll mediate middle school meltdowns, be pushed to your physical limits with late night activities and early morning wake-up calls, all while making a mean friendship bracelet. Counselors develop increased self-awareness (both their strengths and weaknesses) while having an out-of-the-box summer work experience.
- You’ll Develop a Whole New Appreciation for Your Own Mentors. “Serving as a camp counselor makes me so much more appreciative of my own youth leaders,” Alex Morehead, a college junior from St. Joseph, MO, says. “They chose to make diligent, purposeful efforts to ensure that I had countless exciting and enriching experiences. Now I hope to do the same for others.”
Tip: Use KC Parent's Camp Guide to find the best camp for your child.
Lauren Greenlee lives in Olathe and is the daughter of a camp director who spent every summer leading up to high school graduation at summer camp.