Posts Tagged ‘summer camp employment’

9 Lessons a Counselor Learns from their Campers

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016



Everyone that arrives at summer camp leaves with a profoundly changed outlook on life. Like many camp counselors, I expected to learn a lot from the experience. What I didn’t expect was for so many of the things I learned to come from my campers!


It turns out being a role model can be a two-way street. If you’re looking to become a counselor yourself, here are a few of the things you can expect to learn from your campers:

1. You get what you give

Campers demand a ton of energy, and keeping up with the day’s activities — all while being positive, enthusiastic, and with an eye towards safety — can be totally exhausting. Something new happens every day, and greeting new challenges with a smile makes all the difference.


Show up to an activity expecting to be bored, and you’re sure to be bored. Show up ready to give it your best shot, and the fun is guaranteed!

2. Respect is more important than agreement

I’d be lying if I told you I always agreed with everyone at camp. That would be impossible! However, I soon started to notice that the campers who were having the most fun were the ones who treated their peers with respect — even if they didn’t want to be BFFs with them. Campers who refrained from poking fun at someone, even behind their back, always came to the end of the summer with tons of friends and a big smile on their face.


I resolved to start being more conscious about showing respect to my fellow counselors; and the results were incredible! I never even realized how much negativity you can let go when you simply cut out the gossip and “agree to disagree.” This one lesson was worth the whole summer!

3. You can always do more than you think

Camp teaches you how to manage time better than any class. After all, if you can’t keep track of your own life, how are you going to keep track of all your campers?


Life at camp quickly taught me that I was never as busy as I thought I was; I just needed better organization. It’s easy to say “it’s too much” or “I can’t do that” in regular life, but at camp there’s no option: you simply have to show up, rain or shine, and give it your best shot.


4. Laughing makes everything better

It’s scientific fact that smiling makes your mood better, even if you have to “fake it till you make it” at first.


On the one hand camp is full of variety, but on the other sometimes you have to buckle down and do the same activity week after week and make sure it feels “fun” every time. Seeing the campers’ faces light up when we jumped into a new activity kept it fresh for me. When I started smiling even during the activities I didn’t feel like doing, the activities became fun again!


Now I use this technique every day in my “real life,” and it always helps make tasks like laundry day or preparing reports at work feel “fresh” again!

5. It’s okay to say “I don’t know”

Being a summer camp counselor is often a counselor’s first experience as an authority figure. When you’re barraged with questions all day, it’s frustrating at first when you don’t know the answer.


You’ll quickly learn that campers don’t mind if you don’t know everything; in fact, they don’t expect you to. Saying “I don’t know… but let’s find out” is much more exciting than the alternatives, and it shows them that you’re human too.

6. Including everyone makes life more fun

Sometimes there’s a camper who just doesn’t want to do anything. The food isn’t fried enough, the activities aren’t fun enough, and the campfire isn’t “cool” enough. Including everyone in activities is really challenging at first, especially when it means you have to be extra-committed to keep the energy flowing. But something magic happens when you insist on everyone playing together: that camper’s finally joins in, and before you know it they’re having the time of their life! The first time you make that change in a camper’s attitude will change your outlook forever.

7. You’re remembered for the little things

There’s a saying that we’re remembered for our mistakes, not our successes; but I disagree. At camp, as in life, it’s the little things that make your legacy. That time you brought a sick camper their favorite dessert from the dining hall, even though they didn’t ask? They will never forget. Anyone who’s been to summer camp knows it’s the little kindnesses that make the biggest difference.

8. It’s okay to be alone sometimes

Camp is all about togetherness, but sometimes a little alone time is just as important. Camp helps everyone grow by making them learn to ask for it when they need it, but sometimes campers don’t know how to do that and get frustrated. As a counselor, your job is to step in and help them get everything they need to have a great experience. Learning to recognize when campers need alone time and when they need team time is a subtle skill that will radically change your life outside camp.

9. Always pack more socks

This last lesson may be the most important of all! No one ever packs enough socks. They get dirty, they get lost, and you always need more than you think. And yes, you definitely need a comfy pair for lounging around the cabin!

Keep an open mind and have a great summer

Summer camp is as much about learning as it is about fun. When your campers speak, keep your ears open; you just might learn something!

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! 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.

It’s Summer Camp Recruiting Season

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Attention college and university students:  Have you started to think about how you’re going to spend next summer? Sure, it’s almost  winter. It’s cold outside, and the thing you’re most worried about  now are your upcoming finals. Perhaps in the back of your mind you’ve toyed with the idea of applying for an internship or two. But have you considered working at sleepaway camp? Right now, in the late fall and dead of winter, many summer camps are on tour, making stops at schools throughout the country and recruiting events around the world in search of the most caring, dedicated, enthusiastic and fun students who are interested in working with children. If you’re taking courses to become a professional in any field that pertains to the education, coaching or care of children, a summer spent working at camp is more valuable than any internship. Imagine how much you can dress up your resume after a summer living and working with children. Your understanding of diversity and your communication skills will also get a big boost because you’ll be working alongside people from all over the world, all walks of life, and from a variety of professions. Best of all, you literally get paid to spend most of your days outdoors having fun while participating in activities with your campers!

If you think working at camp sounds great but you’re not a person currently majoring in an area related to children, don’t be discouraged. Although students are typically placed in camp counselor positions, there are many different types of roles at summer camp, and summer camp recruiters are always excited to meet and chat with candidates of any college major who may fill a special niche position. So even if you aren’t an athlete or education major, if you think you have a special talent or quality that you can bring as a camp staff member, don’t hesitate to pay summer camp recruiters a visit when they’re at your campus. You might just be that special candidate who is difficult to find but for whom a camp has definitely been searching.

There are a few things prospective staff members should be aware of, though, and recruiters like to be up front with candidates. Working at summer camp is fun, and you’re certainly not going to be fetching coffee (except for yourself at meal times) or be lost in Excel spreadsheets cursing the invention of pivot tables. But you will work harder at summer camp than you probably ever have or maybe even ever will again. In fact, we in the summer camp industry have a motto that working at summer camp is the “hardest job you’ll ever love.” The hours are long. You can expect to be on duty from breakfast to bedtime, typically, six days a week. Summer camp is extremely fast paced and the environment is best described as “organized chaos,” so you have to be able to keep up with the pace and make split second decisions. Being able to stay optimistic and provide encouragement, even when it’s storming outside, you’re stuck in the bunk, and the soccer team (of which most of your campers are a part) just lost a big game, is critical. You have to be able to put on a smile and choose a positive attitude even on days when you wake up not quite feeling the summer camp vibe. You must also be able to care about and for someone else’s children as if they are your own for several weeks. It’s important to remember that those campers assigned to you are your campers for the entire duration of camp, and you are expected to do your best to make sure that ALL of them have equal opportunity to have an amazing summer. If you’re dependent on your tech gadgets, you’ll likely experience a bit of culture shock. Summer camps encourage campers to enjoy their natural surroundings and restrict the use of most electronic equipment such as cell phones, laptops, iPads, and Kindles. Staff members may keep them in camp lockers or safes for use in their off time, but they may not be kept in bunks or used while on duty.

If you’re still reading after the “hard parts” of the job, you must really be interested in working at camp. So now that we have most of the difficult aspects out of the way, here are some fun and rewarding parts of the job. Your summer will be rent free. You’ll likely live in a bunk with another counselor or two and 8-12 campers. You’ll eat free, too, as your meals are provided. What that translates to is that you can save most or even all of your salary if you have no other financial obligations. The ability to be completely silly on the job when the situation merits is actually commendable. You’ll also get paid to play sports, swim, sail, make clay pots, build woodworking projects, make arts and crafts, do fun science and nature experiments, play crazy games, be in camp shows, go on trips with your campers, etc. You’ll likely make more friends in one summer than you have in the past several combined…real friends. Not just Twitter or Instagram followers. You’ll get to know some children who will remain in your heart long after camp has ended. You’ll also get to meet some staff members who choose to return to camp summer after summer. You may even decide that one summer working at camp is just not enough for you either. Regardless, a summer as a camp staff member just may be the summer that changes your life. Summer camps often get emails or phone calls from former staff members explaining how their time at camp clarified an education or career path. Sometimes it’s the collective of everything that happens over the summer that so profoundly affects staff members. Sometimes it’s a single moment.

So if you want that summer that’s different, that will set your experiences apart from those of many of your friends, then be on the lookout over the next few months for a visiting camp recruiter and go into spring break free of worries about how you’re going to spend your summer. If you happen to miss the campus tour, don’t be discouraged. You can also apply to work at summer camp through the Camp Starlight website.

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.

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!

Camp Mom

Friday, February 1st, 2013

One of the most essential roles held in a summer at Camp Starlight is that of the Camp Mom. The Camp Mom is always alert and sensitive to the needs of Starlighters in their everyday routines. Her chief role is to pay that extra special bit of attention known as mother love to our junior campers, specifically our Junior Boys. She checks that the campers are clean and keeping up personal hygiene. She makes sure everyone is lathered up in their sunscreen before heading off to a day of fun in the sun, and she is always ready with her clippers to trim those fingernails when they need it!

Our staff at Camp Starlight is ever vigilant to the safety and well-being of campers, but as we all know, there are just some things that a mother does best. The Camp Mom has the freedom and flexibility to be where she is needed whenever that is. She drops into the bunks, stops by at activity periods, and of course does her daily rounds at meals to make sure everyone is having a proper meal. Counselors are aware and working to make sure the kids are happy and healthy, but only a mom can really go behind and make sure everything is just right. As important as these roles are, the position also steps outside of the everyday practical check-ups and really allows the Camp Mom and the campers to develop a caring relationship through the summer.

In addition to watching the physical welfare of the kids, a Camp Mom also takes on the role of a nurturing supporter. Campers realize she is there for them to talk to, to wish each of them sweet dreams at night, and to help encourage their independence and growth during their summer at camp. For all of these reasons, it is obvious why the Camp Mom is such an integral part of our youngest campers’ summers. All of our previous Camp Moms have shared their enjoyment of being mother to the many kids they met over the summer and being able to care for them during their time away from home. It is also a common feeling that a summer at Camp Starlight as the Camp Mom brought them a wonderfully warm experience personally because of becoming a part of the amazing people known as the Starlight Family!


Miss Starlight 2012…Plenty of Pomp and Circumstance

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Miss Starlight…Part mock beauty pageant.  Part Camp Starlight’s take on dress up.  Each girls bunk chooses a male camp staff member and transforms him into a pretty pretty princess…or something like it.  The contestants then strut their stuff on stage in a display of pageantry and talent that would put—well—really no one to shame.  But it’s all still very funny and fun to watch.  Fortunately, the contestants are not only great sports when it comes to their “makeovers” but they’re incredibly inventive when portraying the characters their bunks have invented for them.  Whether Scandinavian royalty, country girls, or even elderly women, they put their heart and souls into their performances as they fight to win the title for their respective girls bunks.  This year, girls bunk 18 proved themselves the most likely to land their own reality makeover show in their transformation of Armani, who every other day but the one on which he emerged as Miss Starlight 2012, is normally a counselor in boys bunk 21.

The Adventures of WAKA FLAKA (the Lower Debs Mascot)

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Anyone even remotely familiar with Camp Starlight knows that our Lower Debs are some of the most spirited campers.  Their enthusiasm is driven by their love of Camp Starlight and Megan, the Lower Debs Division leader.  One of the ways Megan promotes Camp Starlight spirit amongst the girls is through the use of a mascot.  Megan’s mascot has become a Lower Debs tradition and its identity remains a closely guarded secret for which the answer is highly anticipated by all incoming Lower Debs.  This year, Megan chose WAKA FLAKA.  If you’re wondering who or, rather, what a WAKA FLAKA is, then read on and enjoy the following blog written by Lower Debs counselor and blog contest winner Rachael M. of bunk 17.  Well done and congratulations, Rachael!

My journey as a flamingo has not been typical.  I have been on many adventures already in my life.  When I first arrived at camp Starlight, it was a quiet and beautiful place.  I could tell many amazing things had happened here in the past, but I stayed with one lady wearing Canadian clothing and her cute baby for those first days.  Finally, through my window, I saw others arrive.  They all had smiles on their faces and were so energetic!  Everyone was running to each other and hugging, but I was still alone.

One day, the Canadian lady took me out of her room, which made me very confused.  However, before I knew it, she took me out of the bag I was in and what seemed like hundreds of girls were cheering around me!  It was then that I realized I was no ordinary flamingo.  I was WAKA FLAKA, the mascot for the Lower Debs.  I found out that the nice Canadian lady’s name was Megan, their Division Leader.  She explained that I represented their division, and I even have a cheer for me now!  Everyday, the Lower Debs chant the cheer loud and proud, and learn a fun fact about my species.

The best part about being their mascot is that I get to go around with them at camp everyday.  I spend my days at Starlight watching all of the kids play basketball, go swimming, and I get to watch them cook!  I don’t eat that food, though.  I’m fed by camp spirit!  These ladies, like all of the Starlight campers, are awesome, and I can’t wait to see what the best of the summer holds!