Posts Tagged ‘summer camp work’

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.

C.O.D….It’s a Good Thing!

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Quick.  Name an occasion, besides a fishing contest, when you would be excited to be singled out and handed a fish.  Okay, we’ll help.  Being handed a fish is a good thing at Camp Starlight when you are a C.O.D.  That stands for Counselor of the Day, for those who aren’t quite current with their Camp Starlight lingo.  Every morning at lineup, one counselor from boys camp and one counselor from girls camp are singled out for exemplary performance and attitude and presented with a cod…literally.  Then they each get to do a lap around the lineup circle.  If you think being rewarded with a fish sounds odd, then perhaps one should consider the alternatives:

Here is your Counselor of the Day plaque. (Yawn.  It’s just like the one I got for perfect attendance…in the 4th grade.)

Here is your Counselor of the Day ribbon.  (Three years later:  What was that for again?)

Here is your Counselor of the Day trophy.  (Great.  Just what I needed…another dust collector)

Here is your Counselor of the Day cod.  (Oh…I get it.  Counselor of the Day…C.O.D….Cool!  I’ve never been given a fish before, except that one time at a carnival when I threw a ping pong ball into a fish bowl.  But this one is way better because I don’t have to worry about finding it belly up one morning.)

So there you have it.  When being a C.O.D. and being given a cod are very, very good things!

It’s a Small World after All

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

As we go about our everyday, it is easy to think that the world is made up of just our friends, family and the people we see on a regular basis. We associate and spend time with people from similar places, cultures and backgrounds and can sometimes even forget there is a big world outside our own.  Whether you are a camper or a staff member, going to camp makes you see the world differently! Camp gives you the benefit of coming into contact with people from different schools, communities, countries and cultures from around the world. We make it a point of hiring counselors from across the globe for this reason.

After traveling around the world to meet our counselors, we know that everyone loves to see that some of our soccer coaches are from England and it’s great to be out of the lake with our mates from Australia! They bring so much to the camp experience. Not only are they fun, and we love hearing their lovely accents (we love trying to repeat them too!) They share stories about growing up in places we may have never been. They also teach us new activities, create new interests and help us see the world differently. And what happens is that even though many of our international staff live far away, and talk funny, we realize we are not all that different. These relationships help us to grow and force us all to learn about getting along with others and not just the people we see as like ourselves. Camp teaches you that there is so much more out there, and campers and staff walk away with a greater understanding of themselves and others.


Who Works at Summer Camp?

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Spring is just around the corner and summer will be here before you know it, which makes now the time to start thinking about how you’re going to spend your summer.  If you’re a college student, you could toil away as a server or cook at the local pizza joint or operate rides or peddle souvenirs at the local amusement or sports park.  Interning in a local office may even be an option you’re considering.  But if you want summer employment that promises a summer full of fun and adventure while also helping you develop valuable lifelong skills that employers view favorably, consider working at Camp Starlight.  Just because your college days are behind you doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role at summer camp for you too, particularly if you are a teacher or high school or college athletics coach looking for a fun way to earn some extra money over the summer.  In fact, the ages and backgrounds of the people who make up the typical summer camp staff are about as diverse as summer camps themselves.

If you don’t think being a counselor is really your thing or your pretty sure you’ve aged out of that option, don’t sweat it.  There are a multitude of positions besides counselors that we must fill each summer.  For starters, our office requires personnel to run it.  If answering the phone and administrative tasks are more to your liking, perhaps working in the Camp Starlight office might be the ideal option for you.  Additionally, we need people to help with daily scheduling as well as planning and executing special activities during the evenings and on special days.

If you like the idea of spending time with children and are an athlete or hobbyist who would rather focus on your passion, we hire specialists to teach skills in specific sports and hobbies to campers.  If your passion is photography or videography, as the camp photographer responsible for capturing the fun every day, your role is one of the most integral at camp. In fact, if you can think of an activity, there is probably a staffing need for it at camp, and sometimes some of the hardest positions to fill are ones most people just don’t think of when they think of summer camp, such as creative writing, cooking, robotix, eco science, animation, media, or magic.

Most hospitality positions such as kitchen, maintenance, and housekeeping are usually filled with international applicants.  If you are an international student who would love to earn some money by working in the U.S. before or after traveling, one of these summer camp roles may be the perfect option for you…as well as a lot of fun and a chance to make a lot of new friends from around the world!

If you’re a more mature individual with more education and/or work history, camps also have a need to fill key roles that require more foundational knowledge and experience.  Aside from counselors, Camp Starlight also employs division leaders, people who lead a specific age group and supervise all of the counselors within that group.  Although we usually fill all or most division leader roles with individuals who have several years of successful camp experience because these types of roles require a more intricate knowledge of summer camp, occasionally we will search outside of camp, typically for teachers or other professionals who work with children.  In addition to division leaders, we also hire program or activity heads.  These are typically college coaches and current or former professionals in their area of expertise, such as soccer, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, etc.  However, since almost all activities require people to run them, those with interest and expertise in hobbies or arts related programs can often find a summer home at camp as well in areas such as arts and crafts, dance, theater, etc. Those who manage offices, act as campus administrators, or arrange transportation are typically individuals with some type of related work experience.  Most camps also employ camp moms or parent liaisons during the summer.  These are individuals, often mothers themselves, who monitor the well being of younger campers to insure they are eating properly, staying well groomed, and having a fantastic summer.

So if you’re thinking of trying something new this summer, fill out an employment application to see if Camp Starlight might be the right summer home for you!