When I was in college, there was never any doubt in my mind about how I would spend my summers. I couldn’t wait to be a camp counselor and become the role model to the next generation of campers.
Times have changed and the urge to work at summer camp doesn’t seem to have the same allure as it once did. There are a lot of reasons for this – there are more accessible summer opportunities out there now than ever before, students think they can make more money doing something else, or they want more of a work/life balance during the summer.
I can get on board with all of these reasons, but I think that 18-21 year olds need to also know how important the experience of working at camp can be for them.
I had a 21-year-old waterfront director who wanted to go into politics. She had the chance to take an internship in a government official’s office for the summer, but chose to continue working at camp instead. She knew that the internship would have been making photocopies and getting coffee all summer.
But as the Waterfront Director, she was working on initiative, problem-solving, writing staff and camper evaluations, communication skills, conflict resolution, time management, scheduling, organization, managing priorities, and working as part of a team of leaders. She got into her top-choice grad school because they saw how her leadership position at camp gave her lifelong professional skills and development that no internship ever would.
Project Real Job is an ongoing project through the ACA (American Camp Association), offering resources to summer camps on how to communicate with their future staff on why working at camp is important and life-changing. One of my favorite blog posts, https://www.acacamps.org/blog/camp-counselor-skills-are-professional-skills, goes into detail about how counselor skills translate to real-life professional skills. It gives tips to camp directors and counselors on how to sell your counselor skills in the “real world.”
Working at Netop for the summer is a real job, and it could be the job that gives you the skills to land that great internship, that great full-time position or that helps get you into grad school. I have so many alumni who tell me that working at Netop was the best decision that they had ever made. We are currently looking to fill a few more counselor positions and leadership positions. If you, or someone that you know, is interested please fill out an application at https://netop.campbrainstaff.com/.
Lisa Thatcher – Owner/Director, Netop Summer Camp