Posts Tagged ‘summer internships’

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.

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.’

Coming Back Home

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

As counselors at Starlight we keep our camp memories alive by reliving the stories, the inside jokes, and the people we’ve met. We call each other weekly and send countless texts in an attempt to keep up with each others lives and remain as close as we were at our summer home. We spend hours “liking” and commenting on anything camp related in the hopes that it keeps the bond with both camp and the phenomenal friends we’ve made in the hills of Pennsylvania.

Being that we are for the majority at the mercy of opportunities at our age, we try to gain as much experience to move forward and be in a good position professionally after school; deciding to come back to camp can be hard. Internships, summer classes, and job opportunities can flip the script on returning for another fantastic summer. Fortunately, Starlight is not just for the counselors that are able to return EVERY summer, but it’s also for the people that have the ability to return ANY summer.

The beautiful thing about Camp Starlight is that it’s still home to many who haven’t been there for months, years, and in some cases decades, but it’s home nonetheless. Many of our staff have taken a year (in many cases more) away to pursue other goals or opportunities and then rejoined us feeling as if they hadn’t skipped a beat. It’s a truly special feeling to know that although the world is constantly changing around us, Starlight will always be welcoming us.

To those that have spent time away and rejoined us: we thank you. To those that are away currently: we will always welcome you. To those that were unable to come back: we miss you. To those that get to join us every summer: we cherish you. So if you’ve been away from our summer home for too long but find your summer calendar open…..give us a call and come back home!

The Hard Part of Working at Camp

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

A popular question that a lot of prospective summer camp counselors ask recruiters is about the difficult aspects of the job. After hearing about how much fun they will have, about the amount of time they will get to spend outdoors, about all of the friends they will make, and how much money they can save, it all sounds a bit too good to be true. Candidates want to know, ‘So, what is the hard part?’ It’s a good question because, while it’s true that a simple internet search will produce article upon article about all of the great aspects of working at a sleepaway camp, few highlight the difficult parts of the job. In the name of bucking the status quo, this blog is going to take a stab at it.

First, camp ends. That’s probably the hardest part. From an outsider’s perspective, a couple of months never seems like along time, certainly not long enough to form any permanent bonds or attachments. What a lot of people fail to consider, because it’s just such a foreign concept to most people, is that those two months aren’t 9-5, 5 days per week months. They’re 24/7 months—including meal times. That’s roughly 1,344 hours of constant interaction with campers and co-workers compared to the 320 hours those people who just do that daytime thing get. A little basic math establishes that’s roughly eight months of regular work time crammed into two. Eight months is the better part of a year and plenty of time to get pretty attached to new friends as well as campers. That’s why tears are usually inevitable when it comes time to say goodbye. Goodbye is always hard. But it’s even harder when you know that you may never have the opportunity to see some of the people with whom you’ve just spent the equivalent of eight months of your life again.

Second, you have to be comfortable around children. This sounds like a no brainer, but if you’re used to spending most of your time around adults, spending most of your time around children requires a bit of an adjustment. It goes without saying that interacting with children requires a filter of sorts. Obviously, you don’t share everything with children that you would with other adults. Interacting with children also requires a great deal of discretion. They’re looking at you for answers. Not only knowing what answers to give but when to give them is important. Knowing when it’s not your place to answer but to escalate the issue is even more important. Also, successful interaction with children is all in the presentation. You have to be a good salesperson to a certain extent. Before signing up to work at summer camp, think about the fact that convincing at least one camper to do something he or she does not want to do and to have fun while doing it is likely going to be a daily occurrence. If you’re a person who is quick to lose patience, summer camp may not be the right fit for you.

Third, stepping outside of your comfort zone is difficult. Think about it. When you’re feeling like pizza, do you pick up the telephone and call a different restaurant to order each time or do you call that place that you know makes a killer pie? There is nothing wrong with comfort. It certainly makes life (and decisions) easier. But leaving friends and family and going to a completely foreign environment to live and work for two months is definitely taking a giant step out of the comfort zone for most people. A lot of first year staff members arrive at camp thinking they’re prepared…and then reality sets in. Just accept that you will feel disoriented for a few days and definitely out of your comfort zone, which is hard. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that stepping out of your comfort zone to work at camp is one of the best hardest things you will ever do.

Finally, working at camp is exhausting. Seriously. You need some serious stamina—both mental and physical–to make it through the summer. The days are long. The sleep is short. You will likely be given one day off per week, on which you will still find yourself spending time with the same people with whom you’ve been working for the past six days and with whom you will work for the next six days. Obviously, if you’re a person who values a lot of alone time, you might find working at camp a bit hard.

There you have it. The hard part. The fine print. The ‘What’s the catch?’ If you’ve read all of that and are ready to take on a bit of difficulty in exchange for a whole lot of fun, then a summer at camp just may be the right fit for you

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.

Starlight Internships

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Almost every week we hear from a former staff member, ” I really want to come back to camp, but I think I have to get an internship this summer”. All this talk about internships got us thinking about our leadership staff, their backgrounds in and out of camp, and how much we really do offer at Starlight in many fields and majors our counselors are pursuing. You don’t have to just be in education or recreation to benefit from a summer at Starlight. We reached out to our key staff community that includes teachers, nurses, coaches, accountants, business managers, human resources, recruiters, facility managers, operation, transport and program directors and many more and they were as excited as we are about sharing their knowledge with you. A program was born!

Beginning this summer, Starlight will offer internship opportunities in education, public relations, marketing, finance, human resources, food services, sports management, hospitality and more. As an Intern, you will be balancing your regular daily job responsibilities as a counselor first but will have an opportunity to work with an intern advisor to help complete your internship responsibilities. Starlight has the greatest leadership team with unmatched experience in all these fields and along with Allison Miller, our internship director, you will create a program to help achieve your goals for this internship. After the summer you will walk away with a tangible project and more importantly, real world, hands on, career building experience. This is a great way to have the best of both worlds. To learn more about how to network within our camp family and build your resume at Starlight, email

Find Your Way Home To Camp Starlight

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The last week of camp seems like it was yesterday.  That feeling of holding on to every moment and hoping that time would just stand still. As the Olympic scores are announced, you rushed the lake cheering, hugging and tears began flooding your eyes. You left your legacy with your bunk plaque this time just a simple phrase, so simple, but says so much. You watched the camp enter the banquet and in awe of the fantasy world you created full of the memories of the summer. The songs from the closing show and the beautiful stroll down to the lake.  The serenade of the alma mater and the candle flickering in the night. The vision of fireworks reflecting on the lake .  The trumpet echoing taps from the mountains.  And of course, that moment when together we all looked up to the sky and David’s words that finally had found a special meaning …”may the stars of Camp Starlight keep you warm throughout the winter and lead you back to us next summer.”

As the buses rolled away that summer and you began the journey back down the camp road, you promised yourself that you would return to Starlight some day.  There are so many things that draw you back: reuniting with friends, sharing your own experience with other campers, taking the role of a coach or teacher, the thrill of being a General or Sing Leader, taking on a leadership role of an ADL, Division Leader or one day a Head Counselor, a chance to get in the ring and wrestle in slushies, shaving your legs for Ms. Starlight, being in the rec hall and singing friends and the alma mater.  It is not hard to imagine at all.

Oh, and then life began to get complicated. Applying to college,  going to college, chosing a major, the pressure of internships and the like. And you start to wonder if that promise you made to yourself will ever come true to go back to Camp again.  But before you let the door close on what has been such an important part of your life, don’t believe that the “real world” doesn’t value the experience of working at a summer camp.  Camp Starlight provides a continuous opportunity to grow, educate yourself and develop a social network that will help you further your relationships both professionally and personally.

And opportunities are abound.  Camp is like a mini city.  The experience of working with children will be to learn about teaching and child care. Athletic learning to teach, coach, organize and scheduling are great skills to help with a career in sports management or teaching.  Our health center staffed with highly skilled nurses and doctors many of whom have worked in ER, Surgery, Pediatrics, provides a great resource for someone considering to go to med school or nursing.  Our active social media site provides is a great place to publish a blog, photograph or learn the ins and outs of building a social media community. A special events department is like no other to learn about event planning.  A complete infrastructure with its own sewage plant, dam, generators that would engineer.  Our theater has been a true starting point  for aspiring actors, writers, stage managers, producers and musicians. Thinking of becoming an aeronautical engineer, well maybe we can’t help you, although you never know what we have in store for the Olympic break. The opportunities are as endless as are the mountains in Pennsylvania.

So if your heart belongs at Starlight this summer, give us a call and let us see if we can help you find your way home.

David and Allison