Posts Tagged ‘summer job’

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!”

5 Things for Camp Staff to Begin Thinking about in the Spring

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Even though June is three months away, snow covers the ground in many locations and you just barely finished making spring break plans, if you’ve committed to working at a summer camp, it’s already time to begin thinking about the summer. Here are five camp things to begin thinking about in the spring:

1.)    Make travel arrangements. How will you be getting to camp? Will you drive, fly, carpool? If you plan to fly, airline tickets are often less expensive in the early spring before the weather warms and people begin making summer vacation plans. Carpooling is a great way to get to know co-workers while splitting the cost of fuel. If you plan to carpool, reach out to other camp staff through your camp’s Facebook page or other resources offered by your camp and begin to get to know others from your area who may be interested in traveling together. If your camp offers travel reimbursement as part of your contract, it’s also very important that you understand the reimbursement process prior to making travel plans.

2.)    Set goals. Camp Starlight is a work experience like no other and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Setting goals prior to arriving helps minimize culture shock. When setting goals it’s important to keep an open mind. Summers at camp tend to have a lot of twists and turns. Your list will likely evolve as you familiarize yourself with your new environment, and there are some things that will probably not pan out quite the way you initially envision them. That’s okay. The importance of setting goals is that they help you mentally prepare for the camp experience and arrive with some sense of direction.

3.)    Begin stockpiling…but not too much. Packing for camp is an art. Living space is very limited. At the same time, camps are usually in rural places that don’t have a lot of nearby shopping options, and limited access to computers and the internet make online shopping a bit more challenging too. So it’s extremely important to pack the right combination of items that can be easily replaced with those items that are difficult to come by or require a bit of a drive to acquire. Chances are, you will have several opportunities throughout the summer to replenish basic items such as shampoo, deodorant, sunscreen, etc. So if you need to maximize luggage space, pack just enough of these items to get you through the first couple of weeks. It’s a good idea, however, to begin thinking about acquiring certain items, such as bedding, towels and socks, that people tend to overlook until the last minute. By beginning to accumulate those items a few months ahead of time, you’ll avoid that last minute binge shopping trip in which something essential– and perhaps not easily acquirable–is inevitably forgotten.

4.)    Complete forms. In the spring, Camp Starlight  will make available online a series of forms. These forms may include a contract, standard employment forms, forms requesting information about how you intend to travel to camp, and forms that require medical and insurance information. Although completing paperwork is never the most exciting task, it is essential that you complete and submit these forms prior to your arrival at camp. First, the camp must have these completed forms in order to pay you or treat you for any medical emergencies or conditions. Second, many camps will not issue you id badges or uniforms until they have received these completed forms. Orientation is a very busy time and few staff members love the idea of having to take some of their downtime to complete paperwork.

5.)    Learn more about the Camp Starlight. Presumably, you learned at least a little bit about the camp prior to accepting a job there. But now that you’re actually going to be part of it, really get to know it. Watch the camp video if you haven’t already. Re-watch it if you have. The camp video is a great way to get a feel for the camp culture. Also, if your camp participates in any social media outlets (and many do these days), begin following them to get a sense of who your co-workers are as well as your camp’s values and traditions. Also, a lot of camps provide tips and updates for staff through their social media outlets as camp draws near. Of course, it’s impossible to get a full sense of what your camp is all about until you get there, but arriving with some sense of what (and who) to expect is a lot less disorienting than arriving with none.

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

It’s All about the Staff

Monday, October 14th, 2013

As we all reflect on this past summer and how incredible it was, we want to take this opportunity to thank our amazing staff! Their contribution to camp was immeasurable.  They are a huge part of the reason why this summer was so special. From the Program Heads and Division Leaders to the Support and Counselor staff, we were so impressed with your dedication and commitment to making it the very best.  We recognize that although our program and activities are second to none, the counselor involvement and spirit really make the difference in creating the magic that is Starlight. We love that the Starlight staff understand and enjoy the role they play in their campers’ lives. They learned quickly that as a counselor they could positively impact and influence their kids as well as set the tone for everything here at camp. We appreciate that our counselors take this job to heart.

Camp Starlight is what it is because of the people, and we know how important it is to find the right team that is ready and willing to learn about themselves as well as teach other. Thank you to the people who keep our community the wonderful and safe place that it is. When it comes to camp, there is nothing as important as the people we surround ourselves with. What a team we had–It’s all about the staff!

-Alyson Lee

Campsick Camp Staff

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Summer camp staff who thought they were just heading off for a summer job a couple of months ago are surprised to find that transitioning from camp life back to “real” life requires a bit of adjustment.  Two months doesn’t seem very long in the context of real life.  Most people in real life get up in the morning, go to work or school and then come home.  Their environment as well as the people and things in it change several times throughout the day.  At camp, however, staff are surrounded by the same campers, the same co-workers, and the same bunk or cabin mates day and night.  The environment is fixed.  This is what many people love about working at summer camp, and it does have many advantages.

In the real world, two months isn’t a significant amount of time to form friendships or lifelong bonds. But sleepaway camp isn’t the “real” world.  It’s very easy to make friends when one spends so many hours of each day surrounded by the same people.  The absence of technology encourages interpersonal communication, which means one gets to know a lot about others in a very short amount of time—more than you ever thought.  Most camp staff also never thought they’d get so attached to their campers in such a short period of time.  But they did.  They cried when they said goodbye to their campers and again when they said goodbye to their co-counselors, now friends.

But now that camp is over and it’s time to live in the real world again for the next ten months, staff members are just starting to realize how much camp fever they caught over the summer.  They find themselves wandering aimlessly  listening for PA announcements or bugle calls to signify what time of the day it is, where to go, what to do, and when to eat.  They walk into a supermarket and wonder what they should buy because their meals have been planned for them all summer, and peruse the aisles amongst surroundings that feel slightly surreal.  Then the reality that they’re not at camp anymore finally hits them.  They’re campsick.

Camp sickness is a common post camp feeling for campers, but many people don’t realize that staff members get campsick too.  They get teary eyed when they’re driving along in their cars and a song that was popular at camp during the summer plays on the radio.  They follow the camp Facebook page and remember the fun all over again.  They even wear their staff shirts on occasion.  But maybe the most valuable thing that lives on after camp are the friendships that are formed there.  Even for those staff members who can’t return to camp summer after summer, it’s a great feeling knowing that two months in the camp world was enough to form solid friendships with people from all over the globe.  The camp world is small, but the “real” world feels much smaller too after one has worked at summer camp.

Meet the Staff…

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

For this installment of Meet the Staff, Griffin M. of Boys bunk 19 caught up with Rocketry Specialist Michael F.  Here is what Griffin learned about Michael:

Griffin: Where are you from?

Michael: Marlboro, New Jersey

Griffin: What college do you attend?

Michael: Tulane

Griffin: What is your college major?

Michael: Accounting

Griffin: What are your career aspirations?

Michael: Agent

Griffin: How many years have you worked at camp?

Michael: 3

Griffin: Why did you decide to work at a summer camp?

Michael: I loved camp growing up.

Griffin: What made you choose Camp Starlight?

Michael: I grew up as a camper here.

Griffin: What is your favorite things about camp?

Michael: Olympics, FNS, Interfaith

Griffin: What is your favorite evening activity so far?

Michael: FNS

Griffin: What is your favorite camp meal?

Michael: Cookouts

Griffin: What do you hope to bring away from the summer?

Michael: Fun

Griffin: What are the top three things on your bucket list?

Michael: 1.) Go to the Superbowl 2.) Live to be 100 3.) Own a sports team

Griffin: What is your favorite professional sports team?

Michael: Knicks

Griffin: What is something that most people here at camp probably don’t know about you?

Michael: I am color blind

Camp Starlight on Your Resume

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

In a society where college students are told they surely must land that coveted internship to ever secure a job after they graduate, it posts a challenge for summer camps around the country to retain experienced staff after their college years are over. The misconception of adding “Summer Camp Counselor” to a resume as not a serious prior job experience is unfortunate and something that has to change! At Starlight we are working to foster an environment where our staff can be proud to list being a “Camp Starlight Staff” on their resume with some significant and meaningful skills to back it up.

Some of the aspects of the job are obvious. As a member of Camp Starlight Staff, counselors are going to learn responsibility. Staff are going to learn (quickly) how to multi-task. Most importantly, developing strong leadership skills and the know-how and patience to work with all different people from very different backgrounds is an invaluable experience found in a summer spent at Starlight. Counselors  hone organizational skills and learn how to work in a demanding and fast-paced environment. Working in such a close -knit community staff members realize what it is like to work as a team, be a good co-worker and a great role model. The thing our team takes from a summer at camp that far surpasses closing day is the experience of self examination and discovery. During the summer at Starlight, we facilitate this and help our staff find the things they enjoy and where he or she excels.  This helps build confidence which will last a lifetime.

Anyone considering the exciting prospect of joining us for a summer at Camp Starlight can feel certain that the summer will come with an abundance of experiences that will prove useful for years to come in whatever future career path he or she should take.  It’s important to remember  being in a bunk and responsible for 10 children requires patience, energy, empathy and selflessness. All of these skills can be further discussed in an interview, and it becomes clear that skills learned at Camp Starlight will transfer well into almost any industry or job. Everyday spent at camp provides opportunity and valuable connections for success in the future.

Networking, for example, is a natural thing that occurs at camp. Not only do staff have a team of people to learn from, but just like in recent blogs discussing Starlighters around the world, camp is a culture that is shared by many. Many employers understand the role of the counselor and will appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication it takes to work at a summer camp.  Talking about experiences during a future interview process,  potential employers are bound to be impressed with the excitement Starlight counselors have about a job. With all of the areas we have in camp ranging from programming and athletics, to the tours and the special events, our experienced key staff serve as mentors for development of our counselors life and career goals.  Camp Starlight provides the ability to try a wide range of things and achieve both personal and professional goals all the while having a fantastic time working with great kids and making lifetime friends!

Alyson Lee

Spreading the Word

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Camp Starlight is known for our fabulous staff. We hire mature, experienced and fun-loving individuals who are looking to make a difference. Over the years our recruiting methods may have changed but our mission to find the best staff stays the same. We are so lucky to have a great returning staff to use as a resource and help us to navigate the never ending changing ways to “get the word out”.

We love meeting our staff in person and we love to travel too. We combine the two and, this year, we will be making our way around the country to visit 18 college campuses and 2 countries overseas.  Once there, we attend awesome job fairs and career expos and personally meet hundreds of great potential counselors. After months of planning with our veteran staff just where our recruiting tour will take us, we get on the road to find the best staff in camping. We are always happy to hear from our prospective new staff members that they have heard about Camp Starlight from our veteran staff. We hear from new applicants that they saw things like countdowns, mini reunions, and international camp t-shirt days, all of which made them curious about camp. Our staff and alumni are constantly talking about Starlight.  Their camp experiences and their excitement has attracted many of their friends to apply!

Once we hire a staff member they are quickly embraced by veteran and other new staff members, and friendships are often formed before the summer even begins.The returning staff are so helpful in answering questions about the coming summer, welcoming new staff to the Starlight family.  They truly create the buzz for June! Having the veteran counselors reach out to their new co-workers, we have been told,is incredibly useful for a new counselor and makes them feel as if they are already part of the family before they arrive. As it is February, here at Starlight, we are packed and ready to meet the best of the best for 2013!

Who is Watching Your Children? A Look at Camp Staff and Leadership

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

If you submit prospective babysitters through background and reference checks just for a date night with your spouse or significant other, then you probably have an extreme interest in just who will be taking care of your children at summer camp.  Thanks in part to movies and television, many parents have images of young, barely out of high school teenagers filling counselor roles.  However, the truth is that camps conduct searches for months to locate and fill leadership and key staff roles with mature, knowledgeable professionals, many of whom work with children in some capacity year round.

Even though camp is still six months away, chances are that your child’s summer camp (or prospective summer camp) has already kicked its recruiting season into high gear.  To find counselors, many camps traverse college campuses across the country searching for college students and recent grads who are pursuing careers in education, social work, youth athletics, or other fields related to working with children.  In order to avoid staff members that are too immature—or mature—the target demographic for counselors is typically between 20-25, although some camps will vary from this in certain scenarios or for special needs.  A successful camp counselor works 24/7 and must be mature enough to make split second decisions that concern the welfare and well -being of children.  Although counselor staffs tend to have relatively high turnover rates from year to year because college students complete college and move on to full time jobs that they cannot leave for an entire summer, leadership staff tends to return more regularly.

Camp leadership is often comprised of seasoned teachers and coaches who have been involved with summer camp in some capacity for several years or even decades.  Some of them grew up as campers and worked their way into leadership positions beginning as counselor assistants or counselors.  Others began as counselors and loved the experience so much that they have returned from year to year.  Still others are hired directly into their leadership roles after extensive searches by camps to find the best candidate for the role.  However their camp experience began, one thing that all camp leaders have in common is that they not only have extensive experience working with children, but thorough knowledge of the intricacies and behind the scenes goings on of summer camp.

Aside from leadership staff, other mature individuals are employed to staff health and dining facilities as well as offices.  In fact, parents are sometimes surprised to learn that so many mature, experienced professionals spend their summers at sleepaway camp.  But, for many, the experience, as it is for the children, is beyond compare.  Those who return each year will tell you that they wouldn’t consider spending their summers anyplace else.  They love what they do, they love their campers, and they love their camps!  How many traditional jobs can boast such high morale and collective years of experience?

“Get to Know” Kim–Upper Debs Division Leader

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

For another “Get to know…”, a couple of our Deb girls interviewed Upper Debs Division Leader Kim Schwartz.  Here’s the word from Kim:

This is her fifth summer at Camp Starlight. Her role here at camp has always been the Upper Debs Division Leader—“Mama Eagle”–and she can’t believe that some of her campers from her first summer are now counselors.

Her most memorable moment at Camp Starlight was in 2008, when she had her Bat Mitzvah here.

Some other interesting facts about Kim…

She was pregnant her first summer

She loves that her entire family gets to come to camp together every summer (hubby Evan is also a Division Leader on the boys side, son Ben is a camper, and daughter Maddie looks forward to being a camper in a couple more years).

Speaking of family, she also loves that her children will grow up at camp.

During the ten months she’s not at Camp Starlight, she teaches upper elementary school.

She says that if she wasn’t a Division Leader at camp, then she’d definitely be a Bunk Specialist.

Faves list…

Color: blue

Camp Meal: whacky mac & matzah ball soup

Evening Activity: Spirit of Starlight

And there you have our “Get to know…” with Kim Schwartz!