In the past, I was always a tad nervous about the impression that having ‘Camp Counsellor’ on my CV might give to future employers…“Just don’t include it then” was common advice I received. However, if check my resume- you’ll see it’s still there, twice actually! And that’s because my camp experiences are some of my most valuable and have impacted my working and personal identity the most. But how do you communicate those skills and experiences to someone who has never experienced camp?
The reality is, it’s very difficult to. From colour wars, lake swims and theme park visits- there is absolutely no denying that when you look in from the outside- working as a camp counsellor will appear to be all fun and games. Don’t get me wrong, this viewpoint is partially true. Working as a camp counsellor is a very enjoyable and rewarding job… However, it is also a ‘real job’ that is a lot more physically and mentally demanding than first meets the eye. And because of this, it gives you a wealth of skills and experiences that are transferable and super valuable in the ‘outside of camp’ world! Things that I’m very proud of and I believe deserve to be on my CV.
Working as a Camp Counsellor is a real job that requires an ongoing amount of…
Hard Work & Commitment. The truth is, the normal 9-5 does not exist in the camp world. You work 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 8-10 weeks and on top of that- you do it all at 120%. You make the commitment to do this because if not you- then who? I’ve worked many different jobs in my life, but I’ve never worked as hard as I have at camp! I enjoy working hard, because of camp.
Adaptability. If it’s raining and all activities have been cancelled, you don’t mope and complain about it at camp. As a camp counsellor, you laugh it off and come up with a new plan on the spot to make sure the kids are entertained, happy and distracted from the fact their favourite activity isn’t happening. You learn to become adaptable because as they say ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ so an unhappy counsellor = unhappy kids -which is what we try to always avoid! I’m adaptable, because of camp.
Resilience. Camp taught me the ability to be resilient and manage high-stress situations calmly and quickly. Camp doesn’t ever stop. It’s a fast-paced go-go-go environment that constantly demands your very best and nothing less. Even when you’re tired, homesick and/or sunburnt – you just keep going and going with a big smile on your face! I’m resilient, because of camp.
Responsibility. You instantly become a role model at camp and you realise the importance and responsibility you hold because of this. Not only are you working with kids every day, but you are also living with them so everything you do or say can (and most likely will) influence them. You want your campers to be the best they can be, so you have to be your very best 24/7 too! I understand responsibility, because of camp.
Connection. Camp taught me the importance of making connections and nurturing bonds. You’re not just a camp counsellor to the kids. You’re a friend, a shoulder to cry on, their biggest supporter, the person who keeps them safe and the person they look up too. You wear many hats at camp but they all come from the connection shelf. That connection doesn’t happen instantly, it’s formed over time and maintained with a lot of patience, trust and kindness. I connect well with others, because of camp.
Cultural Understanding. At camp, I gained a huge amount of cultural understanding and hands-on experience working with people from different countries, from different backgrounds and with different personalities, beliefs and values. Camps hire staff from all around the world and it’s one of the things that makes camp experiences so beneficial for not only the counsellors but also the kids. I enjoy working with different people, because of camp.
Endless enthusiasm and positive morale. Camp is an extremely high energy environment and you are expected to keep up with it! This is also known camp attitude, which is what keeps you positive, enthusiastic and motivated even when you’re exhausted, missing home, stressed and/or rundown. Everything can be made positive and enjoyable with the right attitude! I’m always optimistic and see the silver lining, because of camp.
I could keep going with this list forever but for now, I’ll leave it at that. So in conclusion, if those aren’t some of the perfect qualities that any employer would want in an employee… I’m not really sure what are!
As a person and employee- I am who I am, because of camp.
And that’s why I’ll never take it off my CV.
Be nice try hard,
p.s If you’ve gotten to the end of this article and thought to yourself “Why on earth would anyone want to work as a camp counsellor- it sounds exhausting?” I don’t blame you. It is exhausting. But what makes it all worth it… is the kids. You get the honour of watching them grow as individuals over two months. Like a lot of things in life, you get out what you put in. And that couldn’t be more true at camp. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a kid enjoy trying something they were nervous about doing or learn a new skill after trying so hard to get it right! That feeling makes everything hard, worth it and that’s why there is a very popular saying among the camp community that goes like this- “working as a camp counsellor is the hardest job you’ll ever love”.