Posts Tagged ‘camp job’

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.

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.

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

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?

Visit Us at One of our 2012 Starlight Staff Recruiting Events!

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

It’s officially 2012, and that means the countdown to camp is even closer! As we look ahead to the summer, we at Camp Starlight realize that there is still a lot to do before our campers arrive! Although we have a great number of staff returning for another Starlight summer, one of the great parts about working all year round is the fact that we get to meet almost all the new staff we hire before camp! How do we do this? We travel to THEM! This winter we have over 10 trips planned to meet and interview potential counselors for this season! Around the world in 90 days! As for the next 3 months, we are on the road to Toronto Canada, Manchester England, Puebla Mexico as well as Kansas State and University of Kansas, from there we jet off to camp fairs at Indiana University (Alyson’s alma mater) and Purdue (Patrick’s alma mater and where we first met him!). After that we head to the Pacific Northwest to go to Oregon State University, University of Oregon and University of Washington in Seattle. Also on the docket is a spring trip to University of Texas and a stop-over in Ohio if we aren’t filled by then!

We love the idea of meeting our staff in a face to face interview, and when we speak to them and they get excited you can just feel the energy. For so many, you know automatically it’s going to be a great fit! The veteran staff love when we stop by their campus and are always there to lend help and plan mini reunions. We have also found that we have been able to get a few more staff members to commit to another summer after a stop at their college (and a personal reminder of camp life!). It’s a great way to see old friends, reconnect with counselors from previous summers and meet some of our new staff. We find this works so well for us, and we can feel the buzz already in those places as they get ready for our arrival!

Alyson Lee

Being a Camp Counselor Builds Skills for Your Future

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Most of hype you hear about why you should be a camp counselor involves fun, friendship, and sunshine!  However, it may come as a surprise that one of the best reasons to become a camp counselor is the impact it will have on your future career.   There are few better ways to spend your summers than to have an experience that not only offers you the opportunity to enhance your teaching and coaching skills but to have fun while getting paid!  College students who are education, sports administration, and recreation majors can easily build their resumes while earning college credit too.  Some of the things you don’t realize you will get out of camp…social development, professionalism, working in a group setting, planning on the spot, supervision, conflict resolution, and problem solving.  On top of all of that getting to work with children is so gratifying and getting to work in the fun outdoors during the summer is desirable too.  And did we mention FUN?

There are so many benefits to working at camp if you are a college student majoring in any of the aforementioned areas.  You naturally start to build leadership skills that are natural to a classroom or a team setting.  In your daily life at camp, the activity periods, bunk responsibilities, and general camper caretaking are all opportunities for developing future classroom management roles as well as teaching and coaching tactics. The responsibility you have for children at summer camp is a common thread to teaching and coaching.  But at camp you’re given a fun environment where you’re developing in all these ways while you are also helping to build the kids’ self-confidence, skill base, and further childhood development!


A Summer Full of Adventure

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Few people think of finding a summer job while bundled in scarves, coats, and gloves as they attempt to maneuver roadways and college campuses after the latest snowfall.  However, whether 2011 is the first time you’re considering a summer camp position or you’re a seasoned veteran, February is exactly the time to start the process of securing summer employment, if you haven’t already done so.  Many camps attend campus recruiting fairs in order to assemble the perfect staff.  So why should you attend one of these fairs or complete an online application now?  To begin with, a camp job is definitely fun, but also a lot of work…so be prepared! Where else can you get paid to play all day while building valuable job skills? Whether you work in a specific area and focus on a sport, activity or hobby you love or you work as a counselor who travels from activity to activity with campers, your day is full of exciting challenges and a probably even a few surprises, both of which will develop your problem-solving, critical thinking, and negotiation skills.

If you like working with children and aspire to a career in a field such as education, sports training, psychology or sociology, then you already have another reason to work at a camp.  Camp is an excellent place to gain valuable experience and is impressive on a resume.  Although camp seems lighthearted–and it is in many ways–working at camp requires a lot of responsibility, flexibility, and adaptability, all of which are very valuable characteristics sought by employers.   Each day guarantees new challenges, many of them unexpected.  Summer camp is often organized chaos.  Yes, there is always a plan in place, but the unexpected is also inevitable.  While this may seem scary the first couple days, it also brings an excitement and satisfaction that delivering pizzas or serving food (or even working at an investment bank)  never could.  Working at camp also requires a lot of communication and interpersonal interaction, two more transferrable skills that are highly valued by employers.  At camp, you must effectively co-exist with your campers, co-counselors, and other staff members to be successful.   You will also be able to tell future employers that you worked with people from all over the world and from many different socio-economic backgrounds.  That you’ve overcome cultural, language, and social obstacles with others tells recruiters that diversity is not something you fear, but rather embrace.

Working at summer camp can also be very healthy for your bank account.  You won’t become Donald Trump spending your summers at camp. However; camps provide housing and food in addition to a salary. It’s possible to live virtually expense-free for a couple of months.  Many summer camp counselors take home all or most of their salaries at the end of the summer.

Finally, you will form lifelong friendships at camp.  You may arrive alone and nervous in June, but you will leave in August with literally hundreds of friends from all over the world.  Two months may not seem like a long time, but when one lives and works in close proximity with co-workers, it’s more than sufficient to form bonds that ordinarily would take years.  There are always  tears on the last day of camp, not only when saying goodbye to your campers, who will have secured a special place in your heart forever, but to co-workers—the ones you know you will see again as well as the ones you know you will not.  Regardless, the world will seem like a much smaller place to you.

Though it may seem early to begin planning such a special adventure with so many possibilities, building a successful camp staff not only requires individuals who possess all of the qualities previously mentioned, it requires finding the right mix of personalities and talents.  Such an endeavor, of course, takes time.  Camp recruiters review literally thousands of applications each year and speak with hundreds of candidates to find those who are the best fit for their camp’s atmosphere, philosophy and program.  Starting your job search while the ground is still white and the tree branches still bare provides you with the advantage of a larger pool of positions from which to choose.  By April, most camps have nearly completed their hiring and only difficult to fill or highly specialized roles remain.

So, after a winter of wading through piles of snow, are you ready for a summer full of adventure?