Posts Tagged ‘summer employment’

Teachers Love Camp Starlight Campers

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.41.56 AMWhen we asked a teacher in Florida what his ideal student looks like, he said “Someone who is respectful, creative and focused.” When we asked a teacher in New Jersey she said “Someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions, who wants to learn and who tries their hardest,” and when we asked a teacher from Pennsylvania, she said “Someone who has great time management skills, is a leader and is responsible.” What we learned from talking to these teachers is that all across the country, teachers enjoy having responsible, respectful and creative students in their classrooms. And whattaya know… Camp Starlight helps students develop all of these skills, and so much more. It is our theory, that when teachers ask students what they did over the summer, they’re not just asking because it’s the standard “welcome back to school question,” but because they are secretly trying to decipher which students spent their summer growing, learning and improving at summer camp, and how many spent all summer playing video games. The bottom line: Teachers love students who spend their summers at summer camp.

Spending the summer at camp turns followers into leaders, turns shyness into confidence, and turns laziness into responsibility. Summer camp teaches campers how to work well with others, how to think critically and how to solve problems. It allows students to try new things, ask questions and be vulnerable in order to improve themselves. It teaches time management, respect for peers and authority, and organization. The list goes on and on, but every single day campers are learning valuable life skills that easily transfer over to every aspect of their lives. They think they’re just playing football with their friends, but at the same time they are learning how to communicate with others, how to be a good sport and the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. When they make real connections with people they’d usually never talk to, they are learning to ignore stereotypes and appreciate diversity. Summer camp is day after day of life lessons, disguised as swimming, playing, singing, dancing, biking, hiking and exploring.

Teachers look for leaders in the classroom, someone who can follow instructions and encourage their peers to do the same. It is with these students that teacher form trusting relationships, which can work in the students benefit all year long. These leaders are built at summer camp, and their skills aren’t just confined to the campground or the school campus, they become leaders in every aspect of their life.

Parents can be confident that their child will leave camp a better version of themselves. These students, who enter the new school year with a strong sense of identity, work ethic and high self-esteem, will be an important contributor to their teachers and classmates. This will also help them strive as individuals in the classroom and help them improve their academic performance.

If you were to ask a teacher what they REALLY wanted in an ideal student, most of them would say “Anyone who spent the summer at camp!”

Interning at Camp: The Ultimate Summer Job

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

In today’s society of college students there is an underlying pressure to get the coveted internship or summer job to boost your career. According to dictionary.com, an internship is defined as “any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession.” The experiences our staff endure and take away from working at camp are limitless, but the idea of a camp internship can easily translate to many fields in the workplace.

Connor Lange, a recent graduate of Iowa State University completed an Exercise Science internship while working at camp as a Fitness Specialist. Lange shared what he learned from his experience, “I learned how to effectively manage my time, coordinate events for a variety of age groups, communicate with both facility and the kids, work as a strong team, and manage my work life and personal life in an effective way.”
10526136_10152177443296960_5570309213981646310_nWhile working at camp is indefinitely a fun experience, being able to take away real skills and knowledge for future careers is a translatable yet rewarding experience. There are thousands of options of companies; an organization to intern with, but camp does offer something special. Lange went on to mention, “I would recommend Camp Starlight over a traditional internship because I learned more about the aspects and skills needed to be successful in my work field. Also, during my summer at camp, I learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. I learned more about myself this summer than I did in my four years at college.”

Austin Nelson, a Senior at Ohio Northern University studying Business Management recently completed his internship working as apart of our Programming and Operations Department. Nelson eventually would like to work in the sports industry and shared his experience about this past summer, “Coming from a non-camp background, it was interesting to see how Starlight operates and runs as effectively as it does. I learned how to meet deadlines effectively, work with all different kinds of people, and balance the idea of work and play at camp.”

Another huge benefit of working at camp is the ability to have so many co-workers and learn from all different personalities. With staff coming from all over the world, the culture and diversity at camp is unlike any other. “I cannot think of any internship or even study abroad program that offers the same level of diversity that a summer camp does. I learned so much about other cultures. I would not have learned this in a typical internship position,” Nelson added. Rather than being a typical intern, our summer staff are growing, learning, and enjoying the summer as the best two months of their lives.

“The camp atmosphere is truly evident because of how passionate all the staff members are about making the summer the best summer of their entire life for not only the kids but for everyone else in the camp, said Lange.”

While some may not think of camp as a place to intern, Starlight offers internships for all majors and works with many colleges and universities to create distinguished, one of a kind internships for our staff. Even with the stress of getting that sought-after internship, sometimes the simplest things like camp can provide the most gratifying experiences.

So Now What?

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

After the initial feelings of elation that come from having completed their first summer at camp, many first year counselors are left wondering what comes next. For some, the choice to return to camp (or not) is an obvious one. For others, there are many factors involved, impending college graduations or internships, the prospect of a full time job, etc. Others simply need time to process the summer before making a decision. What may have seemed like a one-time-only experience in the moment, proper reflection can give birth to goals that require at least one more summer. Still, some counselors are just too exhausted to even consider next summer without some down-time to rest. During the transition, priorities often quickly shift from camp to academic responsibilities. Although the final decision to return to camp may be months away, fall is actually a good time to make a tentative decision about whether you’re interested in returning and initiating communication with your camp.

Because summer camps recruit heavily during the early part of the new year, they like to have an idea about which staff members have intentions of returning prior to the end of the year. This helps them focus their recruiting efforts. It’s therefore a good idea to contact your camp sometime during the fall to let them know your overall feelings about your summer experience and to express interest in returning the following year.  Although your camp may not have made final decisions about which staff members it will invite to return, having an idea of who is interested in returning is helpful when creating recruitment plans.

Likewise, if you think you might want to return to camp next summer in a different role than you had this season, the fall is a good time toexpress that interest so that your camp knows that you want to be considered for that role should an opening become available. For clarification, it’s a good idea to explain why you think you might be a good fit for your desired role as well. Although it may be obvious to you why you might be right for that role, your camp likely goes through hundreds—if not thousands—of resumes each year. Some proactive notes from you may be helpful.

Making a tentative early decision about potentially returning to camp also gives you more time to prepare for the experience. Even well-seasoned counselors sometimes find themselves scrambling to make summer plans come together at the last minute. The earlier you commit to another summer at camp, the more time you have to financially prepare for the travel to camp. This is of particular importance for international staff who tend to have significantly higher traveling expenses than domestic staff.

Keeping in contact with other staff members is a way to keep camp fresh and the anticipation high throughout the year. It’s also a great way to position yourself to hear news of rideshares or winter join ups among staff.

With a little advanced planning and proactive measures on your part, ‘So now what?’ easily becomes, ‘Now it’s time.’

Be Better

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

The Sochi Olympics took place last month, and even though the athletes competed on snow and ice, the games were surprisingly reminiscent of summer camp, particularly from a staff perspective. Many athletes were there for the first time. Some, however, were competing in their second, third, or even fifth Olympic games. Each summer at camp, likewise, attracts many fresh staff faces – eager but not quite sure what to expect – and returning staff who are back to lead the way and improve upon their past performances, even if those performances were already gold medal caliber. Oddly, a lot of camp blogs and articles address the qualities and expectations of new camp staff, but few address those of returners. How do staff approach camp if it is their second, third, fifth, or even tenth summer? The answer most veteran camp staff provide is that they intend to be better. Even great summers, in retrospect, have room for improvement. Like campers, returning staff always arrive with an agenda and, like athletes, always strive for that perfect 10 summer. Every summer is an Olympic year for camp staff.

Many returners actually begin goal setting for the following summer before the current summer ends. Some simply visualize areas in which they could be better while others actually comprise a physical list. Veteran staff members learn, over the course of several summers, that there is a maturation process to working at camp. Because camp tends to be such a microcosmic environment in which staff wear many hats, it’s almost impossible not to develop multiple perspectives of camp and how it can be made even better. Like athletes, veteran camp staff know that there is always room for improvement. Even the smallest of adjustments can elevate a summer from excellent to outstanding. In part, that is what draws returning staff members back year after year.

Regardless of whether each summer begins with a written or mental list of goals, it ends the same for all returning staff – with careful evaluation of their own performance. The desire to be better is a unique quality of returning camp staff, and a quality that makes them very appealing as job candidates. The enthusiasm of happy campers is infectious. Mediocrity is simply not an option when making campers happy. Returning camp staff are so willing to dedicate themselves to the task of creating gold medal summers that they come back year after year, physically and mentally ready to take on old challenges as well as new ones. At camp,  they eat, breathe, sleep and live what they’ve been envisioning since the end of the previous summer in their quest to simply be better at something they love.

The Other Camp Staff

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Summer camp employment is synonymous with “camp counselor” in most people’s minds. But there are a lot of non-counselor” positions at camp. If you’re interested in working at summer camp but don’t really think the role of camp counselor would be best for you, consider one of these alternatives:

Program/Activity Head: Are you or have you ever been a professional or college level athlete or coach? If so, and you’re interested in working at summer camp, then the Program/Activity Head role might be a perfect fit for you. Program/Activity Heads oversee a sport or activity at camp. They typically have a staff of counselor specialists who are also active in the sport or activity to assist with instruction and coaching. Program/Activity Heads plan daily activities, oversee instruction and assign campers to teams for intra and inter camp league play. There are also a handful of Program/Activity Head roles at camp for those who are not athletic but have some sort of niche expertise in areas like arts & crafts, music, dance, theater, cooking, science and communications.

Programming Staff: If you have a knack for scheduling, consider applying to work as part of a camp programming team. The camp programming staff is responsible for the daily camper and staff schedules. When creating schedules, they must keep in mind things like facility availability, staffing ratios and camper frequencies.

Special Events Staff: The special events staff at summer camp are responsible for all events that take place outside of the regular daily special. This is typically all evening activities and special days as well as (on that rare occasion) a rainy day. It helps if you have some sort of technical knowledge, such as connecting laptops to video screens, rigging microphones and operating (sometimes complicated) sound systems. But not everything you do as a special events staff member is hi-tech. You can also be charged with setting up a scavenger hunt, gathering and placing materials for game night or baking night, or a host of other things. The imagination is the limit. If you love fun and event planning and are detail oriented, special events might be the area of camp for you.

Photography/Videography: Camp photographer and videographer roles are highly specialized and extremely critical roles at camp. Every day, camp photographers take hundreds of photographs of daily activities and film many of the activities as well. If you’re a professional in either of these areas and are interested in working at summer camp, chances are there is a camp looking for you.

Camp Nurse: Summer camps maintain health centers and employ licensed nurses to dispense medication, clean up those inevitable scratches and cuts, and treat campers and staff who become ill during the summer. For those rare more severe injuries that sometimes occur, nurses also may be asked to accompany campers or staff to local hospitals or doctors’ offices.

Office Staff: If you prefer behind the scenes desk work and answering phone calls, then consider applying for a camp office staff job. Typically, office staff answer phone calls, sort mail, greet visitors, manage camper phone calls, prepare documents or mailings, and complete other administrative tasks.
Maintenance Staff: If you’re a handyman (or woman) who’s good with a hammer, loves landscaping and cleaning, and prefers being outdoors to inside, consider applying to work as a member of the maintenance team. Camp maintenance staff stay busy all summer long maintaining summer camp campuses, and no two days as a camp maintenance staff member are alike.

Kitchen Staff: Working in the camp kitchen is perfect for those who thrive in restaurant environments. If you’re a chef,caterer or member of a restaurant staff–or aspire to be one–then working in a summer camp kitchen is a fun alternative to restaurant work.

If any of these camp roles interest you, camps are hiring now. Many of the people who work in these role return year after year because they are a great way to integrate personal interests and specialized expertise with the fun and adventure of working at summer camp. Apply now and you just may find yourself returning year after year too.

The Hard Part of Working at Camp

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

A popular question that a lot of prospective summer camp counselors ask recruiters is about the difficult aspects of the job. After hearing about how much fun they will have, about the amount of time they will get to spend outdoors, about all of the friends they will make, and how much money they can save, it all sounds a bit too good to be true. Candidates want to know, ‘So, what is the hard part?’ It’s a good question because, while it’s true that a simple internet search will produce article upon article about all of the great aspects of working at a sleepaway camp, few highlight the difficult parts of the job. In the name of bucking the status quo, this blog is going to take a stab at it.

First, camp ends. That’s probably the hardest part. From an outsider’s perspective, a couple of months never seems like along time, certainly not long enough to form any permanent bonds or attachments. What a lot of people fail to consider, because it’s just such a foreign concept to most people, is that those two months aren’t 9-5, 5 days per week months. They’re 24/7 months—including meal times. That’s roughly 1,344 hours of constant interaction with campers and co-workers compared to the 320 hours those people who just do that daytime thing get. A little basic math establishes that’s roughly eight months of regular work time crammed into two. Eight months is the better part of a year and plenty of time to get pretty attached to new friends as well as campers. That’s why tears are usually inevitable when it comes time to say goodbye. Goodbye is always hard. But it’s even harder when you know that you may never have the opportunity to see some of the people with whom you’ve just spent the equivalent of eight months of your life again.

Second, you have to be comfortable around children. This sounds like a no brainer, but if you’re used to spending most of your time around adults, spending most of your time around children requires a bit of an adjustment. It goes without saying that interacting with children requires a filter of sorts. Obviously, you don’t share everything with children that you would with other adults. Interacting with children also requires a great deal of discretion. They’re looking at you for answers. Not only knowing what answers to give but when to give them is important. Knowing when it’s not your place to answer but to escalate the issue is even more important. Also, successful interaction with children is all in the presentation. You have to be a good salesperson to a certain extent. Before signing up to work at summer camp, think about the fact that convincing at least one camper to do something he or she does not want to do and to have fun while doing it is likely going to be a daily occurrence. If you’re a person who is quick to lose patience, summer camp may not be the right fit for you.

Third, stepping outside of your comfort zone is difficult. Think about it. When you’re feeling like pizza, do you pick up the telephone and call a different restaurant to order each time or do you call that place that you know makes a killer pie? There is nothing wrong with comfort. It certainly makes life (and decisions) easier. But leaving friends and family and going to a completely foreign environment to live and work for two months is definitely taking a giant step out of the comfort zone for most people. A lot of first year staff members arrive at camp thinking they’re prepared…and then reality sets in. Just accept that you will feel disoriented for a few days and definitely out of your comfort zone, which is hard. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that stepping out of your comfort zone to work at camp is one of the best hardest things you will ever do.

Finally, working at camp is exhausting. Seriously. You need some serious stamina—both mental and physical–to make it through the summer. The days are long. The sleep is short. You will likely be given one day off per week, on which you will still find yourself spending time with the same people with whom you’ve been working for the past six days and with whom you will work for the next six days. Obviously, if you’re a person who values a lot of alone time, you might find working at camp a bit hard.

There you have it. The hard part. The fine print. The ‘What’s the catch?’ If you’ve read all of that and are ready to take on a bit of difficulty in exchange for a whole lot of fun, then a summer at camp just may be the right fit for you

I’m coming back!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

It’s that time of year when counselors try to decide if they are coming to back to camp this year! For some counselors, it’s a quick decision about which they don’t even need to think twice. They immediately call the winter office and proudly exclaim, “I’m coming back!” These counselors know they can live another “10 for 2” and can’t wait to return to Starlight to see their friends and campers, both old and new!

For some counselors, the decision doesn’t come as easily.  It might be that this is supposed to being their internship summer, maybe they have to stay at school to take classes, or are feeling the pressure of graduation and the need to get a “Big Kid/Full time “job.

What has kept bringing me back each summer has been what I call the “little moments” that make me smile throughout the year and remind me why I need to go back to camp this summer.  Sometimes it’s while studying for a big exam and hearing “the song of the summer.” Suddenly, I feel the same energy and excitement I felt on welcome day when the buses pulled in, and I finally met my bunk.  Other times, it’s having a British professor whose accent can’t help but remind me of my hilarious co-counselor from the UK.  But my absolute favorite is when I’m walking to class, and the air actually smells like a warm summer day at camp.  In the back of my mind I can hear children laughing and playing, and even my backpack feels like a drawstring bag filled with emergency sunscreen.

Every counselor’s moments are different, but it’s what binds us together in our love for camp and our desire to return to Starlight as many summers as possible. And, hopefully, your “little moments” help you finally make the call to say, “I’m coming back!”

See you soon, Summer 2014!

–Tana

They Just Don’t Get It

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
As the winter season is upon us, for many people, memories of the summer are fading but for a bunch of us, summer is still very much on the forefront of our minds. This is because we are camp counselors. Even though it’s been 4 months since we were at Camp Starlight, we are not quite used to the “real world” yet and long for a time when singing songs about napkins and moustaches is normal. A place where tutus for men, suspenders made of duct tape, and blue and white face pant is just typical everyday attire. A place that you “get” and it “gets” you.

You can never truly explain to people who have not spent a summer at Camp Starlight what the experience is like and trying to get them to understand a story or sing along with hand motions to a song is lost on them. Why don’t they understand how eating a piece of cantaloupe is important, or why this square dancing bracelet is a bragging rite? Why don’t they get it?

Only the lucky ones that have worked at camp can empathize with what we go through; trying to explain how hard but crazy good our kids were, why you can’t stop singing those songs, or why if you see a child you immediately turn back into a counselor.

I guess you have to realize that the summer of your life was unique and special and something most people will never “get”.  But that won’t stop you from trying to get others to come with you next summer to Camp Starlight!

5 Tips for First Time Counselors

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

You’ve accepted the position and completed the paperwork.  It’s official!  You’re about to spend your first summer as a camp counselor.  Naturally, a lot of people experience a few nerves in the days leading up to camp.  After all, even when you’re a grown adult, leaving behind your family and friends to spend the summer in a strange place is a big deal, especially if you’ve never been away from home for an extended period of time before.  If you didn’t attend summer camp as a child, working at summer camp holds even more mystique because you’re not sure what to expect.  If first time counselor nerves are haunting you, don’t be so quick to call up and accept that unpaid internship filing paperwork in a stuffy office all summer and, for goodness sake, don’t accept that job at the hot dog stand in the local park.  Instead, follow these tips to kick your summer into gear now:

1.)    Relax!  You are NOT the only first time staff member coming to camp.  If you know no oneelse going to camp or have never been to camp, that understandably may be a pretty difficult concept to wrap your head around right now.  But trust us!  When you get to camp, you will be in good company.  If you’re feeling a little bit lonely when you first arrive, don’t panic and automatically assume you’ve made a mistake.  The majority of people who tend to be drawn to work at camp typically have laid back, easy going and open personalities with an extraverted bend toward making new friends.   Chances are that after your camp’s staff orientation period, you’ll have several new friends for life and wonder why you ever even doubted coming to camp.

2.)    Like your camp’s Facebook page and staff Facebook page if it has one.  Social media has arrived and most summer campsare completely aware that the easiest and most effective way to communicate with their camp staff is through means such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  By liking your camp’s pages, you can make friends before camp, pick up a lot of useful tips, and even possibly connect with a rideshare if you’re looking for a way to get to camp.  Most summer camps also now feature regular blogs.  It’s a good idea to pop onto the camp webpage every now and then in the weeks leading up to camp to see what new blogs have been posted.  Camps tend to post some blogs, such as this one, for which staff is the intended audience during the late spring and early summer.

3.)    Don’t over or under pack.  Packing lists are created by camp professionals who’ve spent enough summers at camp to know what you need to be comfortable for the summer.  So read over the staff packing list, if your camp supplies one, when determining what to pack as well as what not to pack.  Veteran staff members are also usually more than happy to field questions on staff Facebook pages, which makes them a good resource if you’re unsure about some items.

4.)    Arrive with the right mindset; being a camp counselor really is the hardest job you’ll ever love.  Camps tell prospective staff members this during the interview process…and they mean it.  You are about to spend the summer working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life, and you will love most moments of it.  There will also be moments during which you will question how in the world you ended up working at a summer camp and why you thought it was a good idea.  Two things are essential to moving forward when these moments happen, and they’re actually most effective if you prepare yourself with them before you even get to camp.  First, arrive with the right attitude.  Yes, you’re there to work.  You’re there to work hard.  You’re also going to have a lot of fun creating amazing moments for and with your campers.  Second,  know what helps you alleviate stress or frustration and come prepared to engage in it should the need arise.

5.)    Be in the moment.  Yes, we spend our lives being told how important it is to plan.  But at camp, it’s very important to bein the moment and be present with the campers.  It’s how you’ll best appreciate the camp counselor experience as well.  Summer camp lasts only a few weeks each summer, and things tend to move very quickly.  On the first day, you’ll be looking ahead at a whole summer and thinking the end seems like a long way off.  But on the last day of camp you will wonder where it went.   Don’t find yourself with regrets on that day by realizing that you didn’t take advantage of every moment.

Starlight Internships

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Almost every week we hear from a former staff member, ” I really want to come back to camp, but I think I have to get an internship this summer”. All this talk about internships got us thinking about our leadership staff, their backgrounds in and out of camp, and how much we really do offer at Starlight in many fields and majors our counselors are pursuing. You don’t have to just be in education or recreation to benefit from a summer at Starlight. We reached out to our key staff community that includes teachers, nurses, coaches, accountants, business managers, human resources, recruiters, facility managers, operation, transport and program directors and many more and they were as excited as we are about sharing their knowledge with you. A program was born!


Beginning this summer, Starlight will offer internship opportunities in education, public relations, marketing, finance, human resources, food services, sports management, hospitality and more. As an Intern, you will be balancing your regular daily job responsibilities as a counselor first but will have an opportunity to work with an intern advisor to help complete your internship responsibilities. Starlight has the greatest leadership team with unmatched experience in all these fields and along with Allison Miller, our internship director, you will create a program to help achieve your goals for this internship. After the summer you will walk away with a tangible project and more importantly, real world, hands on, career building experience. This is a great way to have the best of both worlds. To learn more about how to network within our camp family and build your resume at Starlight, email info@campstarlight.com