Posts Tagged ‘working at camp’

Interning at Camp Starlight

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

54ef49ff-9ab5-41b4-978a-b437ed3421e3Searching for internships can be stressful. Not only are you competing with every college student in the country, but also you’re competing against yourself. College age kids, more affectionately referred to as “millennials” are looking for internships that not only make their resume better than their classmates, but also lets them make a difference as opposed to making copies. For some, making copies at a high end accounting firm, or fetching coffee at multi-million dollar tech company is fine, as long as they can put it on their resume and fake it in their next interview about what they truly did all summer. But for others, the ability to take ownership of a project, to look back on a summer and say, “I can’t believe I did that!”, is more important than working for a fortune 500 company.

 

For me, I knew going in I didn’t want to wear a suit to work everyday. I didn’t want a 9-5 job where I knew I would be watching the clock all day. I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted to have fun doing it. After countless Google searches, one job stood out to me, Camp Counselor. Being from the Midwest I didn’t go to camp. No one did. So I applied, what did I have to lose?

 

f44a8494-83cf-4f5d-9387-e92327a7e2cdBelieve me, I was skeptical. but the beauty of interning at camp is that I got to make my own experience. When I was interviewing I let them know that I was looking for college credit and some sort of administration experience, being a business major. I was offered a role as part-time counselor, part-time programming assistant. The title itself did not express what I was doing all summer by any means. My time in the office allowed me to see the business side of camping and the industry as a whole. It opened my eyes to what it truly takes to run a top-tier summer camp. If there was a job to be done at camp I did it. Data entries, inventory, making sure program areas had supplies and were able to run efficiently. Heck I even fixed a few doors and put tables together.

 

Then the kids arrived…

 

2c45cf5e-75df-4b6c-ab34-85001e7eda15500 kids, all at once, and at that moment, camp became real to me. Apart from my responsibilities in the office I now had 10 kids that I had to take care of for 7 weeks. This is the part of my internship where I could really make a difference. Essentially, I was a parent for the summer, and that really intimidated me. I was still in school; I just got used to taking care of myself and now I need to care for a group of 9-year-old boys. But I quickly learned that although they were young, they were smart, self-sufficient, and ended up teaching me more than I could ever teach them.

 

My summer internship was unlike anyone I graduated with. I worked alongside the President and CEO’s of the company. I was a co-worker with 200 people from over 10 countries. I created excel documents by day and sang “Let It Go” as loud as I could by night. It wasn’t easy but I had the time of my life. I made a difference, and left my footprint. Most importantly, I walked away from the summer saying, “I can’t believe I did that”, and you can’t get that feeling making copies.

What to Expect Your First Summer as a Camp Counselor

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.52.13 PMThinking about what you’ll be doing next summer already? If you loved camp as a kid or are now too old to attend Camp Starlight as a camper, think about applying to be a camp counselor at Camp Starlight! Running a successful camp depends mostly on our camp staff.

  1. Being a counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love! You’re there to work, most likely harder than you ever have in your life. You’re also there to reconnect with the campers and your fellow counselors, form friendships, and make memories!

 

  1. Get ready to be excited about everything! From Ms Starlight to Olympics, teaching skills to singing camp songs, campers feed off of your energy! You are their role model for the entire summer (or at least part of it), so remember that your campers are always watching you to see your reactions. If you’re excited, chances are they’ll be excited too (even about laundry). Make it fun!

 

  1. At Camp Starlight, time moves quickly! When you arrive at camp for orientation in June, you’ll find yourself thinking “August is so far away! I have plenty of time!” The next thing you know it’s the middle of July! It’s important to be present and live in the moment with our campers. It’s the best way to make the most out of your experience over the summer!

 

  1. There is no “typical” day at Camp Starlight. At a 9-5 job, you may have a set routine. This might get boring! Don’t worry- at Camp Starlight things are always changing! We’re always adding new activities and switching up schedules to keep things fresh for campers. Of course, there will be a small routine to your day: staff meetings, teaching various skills, and meals but other than that, come prepared for change daily!

 

  1. You’ll be competitive about everything. From making the best friendship bracelets to lawn games against other groups, everything you do will be weirdly competitive. Even if it doesn’t have to be. This is one of the ways your group shows pride! So, reveal in it and pump your campers up!

 

  1. Get ready to become a craft master. Even if you came to Camp Starlight not knowing how to tie a knot, by the end of the summer you’ll be a bracelet making master!

 

  1. You’ll be pushed outside your comfort zone. This helps you grow! For example, you may be able to avoid some of your fears (of swimming, heights, etc), but you might not be able to get out of being put in the spotlight at one point or another during the season. Revel in it; it’s not too scary!

 

  1. Get ready to embrace your inner athletic side, even if you don’t think you have one! We love games at Camp Starlight, so don’t think you can get away with not participating! Give it your all, and you’ll find that it’s fun! Even if you don’t, do it for your campers!

 

  1. You’ll lose track of days. During your time at camp, you’ll almost never know what day it is. And it doesn’t really matter (as long as you’re not late for a meal or a scheduled activity!). Part of enjoying camp is completely immersing yourself in it!

 

  1. Expect to leave Camp Starlight changed in some way. This summer will have a profound impact on you: the way you live your life, what you care about, and the way you see others. You may not even realize it, but summers at camp will change you for the better!

 

Ready to apply? Visit campstarlight.com/StaffExperience! We hope to see you next summer!

Being a Part of the Camp Starlight Team

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.09.30 AMBeing a part of the team at Camp Starlight is an honor and a privilege, an opportunity to single handedly change the direction of a child’s life by giving them the gift of self confidence, love, patience, forgiveness and positive attention. Camp counselors provide an unforgettable experience for countless campers every single day which something you can’t say about most summer internships or part time jobs.

Camp counselors spend their summers surrounded by nature, interacting with other counselors, staff and campers, and get to experience life through the eyes of a child, an experience that can sometimes feel far away as we grow older. Camp counselors not only teach, they also learn. They learn practical, social and problem solving skills. They learn patience, trust, teamwork, time management, conflict resolution and how to have an impeccable work ethic. Any future employer who wouldn’t hire someone with that skill set would be missing a great opportunity.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.09.36 AMYou could sit at the neighborhood pool all summer as a lifeguard, or serve coffee at your local coffee shop, or walk dogs, file papers (yawn!) or serve tables over the summer. But at the end of the day, as you fell asleep, completely exhausted from an active and exciting day, would you feel like what you did make a difference in someone’s life? Would you feel like you made lasting friendships, or invested time in someone who was feeling lonely, afraid or misunderstood? Probably not. The magic that happens when you truly see personal growth and change in someone does not happen in a coffee shop or at a medical office filing cabinet. It happens in the moments when you help someone conquer his or her fears, handle heartbreak, experience a triumph or get through a failure. It is in these moments that you, as a camp counselor, change the world, one camper at a time.

So when you’re thinking about what you should do over the summer, consider Camp Starlight. You’re only applying for one of the most exciting, exhausting, rewarding jobs on the planet!

You were made for this. The world needs changin’, and it starts with you.

My First Year as a Counselor

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

I went to Camp Starlight as a camper for 8 summers. I remained in the same bunk with the same group of girls since I was a junior all the way until CA summer. I was understandably nervous about joining the starlight staff for the summer of 2014, but knew that it was an experience I must complete in order to complete my journey at Camp Starlight. Undoubtedly, this summer exceeded any of my previous expectations. I was a Lower Deb Counselor (GO UNICORNS) and I couldn’t have asked for a better

group of girls to spend my summer with. I admired their constant positivity and energy at every activity and in the bunk. My co-counselors and I became the best of friend, and I learned more about teamwork and responsibility than I thought I could ever learn anywhere. Outside the bunk, I was a lacrosse specialist and it w

as amazing to get to know almost the entire girls side. Every group of girls brought forth a different contribution to the program, which only added to my incredible experience as a coach. I truly thought my years as a camper were the best it was going to get, but my first year counselor experience exceeded anything before it. I learned so much about myself, while spending every second with the people I came to love the most.

Devon H.

A Staff Member’s Favorite Part of Camp:

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Have you ever tried to thing about your absolute, favorite part of camp? I bet it’s hard to think of just one. There are so many activities, events, and moments at camp that can turn into a favorite in just a matter of seconds.

From a staff perspective, it’s hard to choose just one favorite part about camp. Most staff members have never experienced anything like Camp Starlight before. Every day of the summer is new and exciting for them. They could wake up and say, “That was my favorite part of Camp”, until something even better is thrown at them, and they change their mind over and over again.

My favorite part of camp is possibly one of the most anticipated days of the summer. When the Starlight Summer really begins, welcome day, the first day.  The energy that is flowing through the camp, even before the busses arrive, is crazy. Counselors are so excited to meet their campers and really get the ball rolling.  As those first buses pull up, there is an intense mix of emotions; excitement, anxiousness, happiness, and even a slight feeling of fear. But once all those kids run off the bus carrying sports equipment and bus bags, and the biggest smiles you could ever imagine, the atmosphere drastically changes and it’s one of the best feelings in the world! You suddenly know that you are in for the best summer of your life, and can’t wait to see what’s next in store!

So staff, what is YOUR favorite part of camp? Comment in the section below, or feel free to send us your own personal blog at info@campstarlight.co

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.’

I Never Thought I Would…

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

It’s interesting how many times throughout the summer counselors are overheard beginning a sentence with the phrase ‘I never thought I would…’ Working at sleepaway camp is truly a collection of ‘I never thought I would…’ moments. All too often, those are also the remarks that speak for camp itself, because they’re epiphanies from the staff members themselves. Although the “I never thought I would…’ comments are as varied as the counselors, there are a few that consistently come up. From the mouths of the staff members themselves, ‘I never thought I would…’

Make so many new friends

Sure, I came to camp expecting to meet a few new people. But I’ve made dozens of friends this summer from all over the world. I feel closer to some of them than I do to people I’ve known for years. I never imagined that I could grow so close to someone in just a few weeks. I’ve wanted to travel abroad for years, but have been scared of going places where I didn’t know the language or the people. Now I can’t wait to go knowing that my new camp friends are going to be there waiting for me!

Be so enthusiastic about little things

One of the most awesome things about working at summer camp is that even the smallest of details are a big deal. The campers get excited and I can’t help but feel it too. Going to our favorite activity during the day; getting ready for an evening activity; walking into a meal and seeing that it’s my favorite; telling silly knock-knock jokes in our cabin at night; and, in particular, those moments when I really connect with my campers.

Like working so hard

Camp is hard work! I start early in the morning and end late at night. It’s TOTALLY worth it though! I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Sometimes I forget that this is a job and I’m getting paid. So much happens in one day of camp. At night, I lay in bed and try to remember everything that happened during the day just because I don’t want to forget.  I’ve started keeping a journal of my days at camp. This winter, when it’s cold outside and I’m missing camp, I’m going to read it. I’m so glad I decided to work at camp instead of accept an internship. This is SO much better than an office! Now I know I want to spend the rest of my life working with kids.

Talk a camper through something difficult

There are a lot of activities at camp and some of them require courage—especially if you’re a kid. I can’t imagine having the guts to maneuver a ropes course thirty feet in the air when I was ten. I really admire so many of my campers for trying brave and adventurous activities. The best part is being able to give the ones who are a little scared that extra push that they need to take on the adventure. There is nothing more gratifying than a smile and a high-five from a camper who just did something they thought they never could and knowing that I helped them do it.

Live so much in the moment

At camp, it’s simultaneously easy and impossible to forget about how short my time here really is. Every day just flies by, which is also reminder that the end of camp is one day closer. I find myself really wishing that I could slow down time, and I’ve started making an extra effort every day to savor each and every moment of camp. Doing so has made me very conscious of how much time I spend in my everyday life planning and thinking ahead. It’s really nice to keep things in the now. I hope to apply my new focus on living in the moment when I return home at the end of the summer, and stop spending so much time thinking about tomorrow.

Become so attached to my campers

I never imagined that I could become so close to a group of kids. I came to camp to be their leader. But it’s so much more than that. It’s impossible not to be attached after spending so much time with them at activities, at meals, in the cabin and getting to know them one-on-one. It’s blows my mind to think that I’ve become so attuned to their individual personalities in such a short amount of time. The summer isn’t even over, and I already know that I’m going to miss them.

Environmentally Friendly Noise

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Whether you’re a new or returning staff member who is preparing to work at camp this summer, the decibel level of those first few days at camp are always a bit above what you anticipate. Of course, we hear noise every day.  But camp noise is different than other noise. A camp staff member once relayed a memory of her first summer at camp. She recalled the shock of the day the campers arrived. ‘It was suddenly very loud,’ she said. ‘They don’t prepare you for that at orientation. Then again, there is probably no way they could.’ She is right. There is no way to describe what several hundred excited children who have been waiting for a moment for ten months sounds like. It’s certainly not noise pollution, though. It much more closely resembles environmentally friendly noise. It’s the noise of excitement, happiness and anticipation.

A strange phenomenon happens with environmentally friendly noise. You not only expect it, but anticipate hearing it every day.You don’t even realize how much you look forward to camp noise until the end of camp. When the buses pull away on the last day of camp, the quietness that settles over the campus is one of the saddest moments of the summer. You realize the kids are gone, and the summer really is over. Even after you return home, you find yourself wishing to hear the sounds that defined your summer–bugle calls or bells to signal daily activities, constant cheering and laughter, mealtimes with hundreds of other people. Everyday noise just seems like noise pollution.

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