How Your Camp Counselor Experience Can Help Transform Your Career

Most of us don’t think of being a camp counselor and using the skills developed over the summer to further a career. Being a camp counselor brings to mind things like making s’mores around a campfire, swimming in the lake and star gazing at night. While those are all certainly experiences counselors have, working as a camp counselor provides so many extra skills that transition into the workforce, such as team work, team building, finding your work style and learning how to deal with conflict.

In an article posted recently these were the top skills gained by working at a summer camp:

Networking Skills
The camp counselor experience is an inherently social game. To counsel successfully, you need to communicate well with the young people under your charge, as well as with concerned parents and your fellow counselors. You’ll be able to form particularly vital networks with your fellow leaders – since camp counselors come from all around the world, the bonds you forge may well translate into professional connections as your cohort of leaders moves on from camp and into the corporate realm.

And you never know: perhaps a potential future boss will spot your can-do attitude and responsible nature while visiting their kid at camp, and you can strike up a conversation about possible career opportunities from there. Believe me, stranger things have happened to camp counselors! In addition to your own positive camp counselor experience, you’ll also be influencing youth.

Social Skills
Summer camps are all about human connection. Parents send their kids to camp for the school break because they want their son or daughter to escape from antisocial technology, and to get around people (not to mention nature). It’s the camp counselor’s responsibility to ensure that these social bonds are being forged in all sorts of directions.

At camp, you’ll learn that very little can be achieved alone. Not only will you be encouraging your flock of campers to cooperate and connect in group activities on the daily, but you’ll depend on your fellow counselors for input and help (and vice versa) when things get challenging. Camp culture is communal, not individualistic, which means that teamwork and diplomacy are essential to getting anything done – a great baptism-by-fire for the open-plan workplace.

Strong Work Ethic
Camp counseling is certainly buckets of fun. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel like “work,” but the hours are long and your responsibilities are non-negotiable. Most people have experienced a summer camp at least once in their lives and know that camp counselors and are expected to be friendly, approachable, and alert for the entire period of their contracts. Prospective bosses will surely give you serious kudos for that!

Working Autonomy
If a prospective employer sees from your career history that you’ve previously held a post as a camp counselor, they’ll know that you’re a self-starter. Hiring committees value past counselors for their autonomous working style because while your supervisors teach you the tricks of the trade before throwing you into the deep end, you’ll learn pretty quickly that you need to make your own calls.

If you’ve been tied down to entry-level jobs in which your every action is micro-managed, applying for a post as a camp counselor might be just what you need to develop some working independence.

A Sense of Responsibility
As a camp counselor, you’re likely to be responsible for 10 or more young lives. Not even million-dollar bankers share that kind of responsibility every day! The great news is that bosses will register the gravitas of your charge as a camp leader, and trust in your ability to handle whatever they throw at you in a professional context. In other words, they’ll deduce that if you can handle a group of kids single-handedly, you can handle any given workload.

A sense of duty and responsibility leads to the development of other skills at camp, too. The most obvious is a knack for details. When you have to remember each child’s individual requirements – such as allergies, sun-sensitive skin, or shyness – you’ll swiftly become a master of minutiae and multi-tasking.

Leadership Skills
If you’ve long been looking for a way to learn great leadership skills but haven’t found the right outlet to develop your potential as a leader, becoming a camp counselor could be a great route for you! Learning to be a leader will make you appreciate the leaders in your own life even more, and will add great, practical skills to your CV as well.

Interview-friendly Scenarios
Particularly if you don’t have much existing job experience, working at a summer camp can provide you with a host of priceless scenarios and stories that you can use as illustrations when you are answering tricky interview questions.

Need an instance where your problem-solving capacities were tested? Most camp counselors will have dozens of examples to choose from – and if you are ever asked to identify a point of personal weakness that was brought to your attention in a prior workplace, you’ll have myriad answers to shape.

Creative Thinking
While at summer camp, the daily itineraries prepared beforehand will rarely go perfectly to plan. Changes in weather, canceled entertainment, anxious kids, broken equipment, and all sorts of other common camp problems may force you to think up a creative alternative on your feet and save the day

There is so much to be gained by working as a camp counselor and our motto at Vega holds true to this for staff as well as campers: “The most exciting thing a girl will find at Vega is herself.” What better place to find yourself than in our Vega family? See you next summer!