By Gayla Grace
Kids love to journey off to camp to experience new adventures, enjoy a break from everyday life and make new friends; however, as our kids grow older, the importance of finding a job may outweigh the importance of heading off to camp. Choosing one over the other may not be needed when you can instead consider the perfect blend of both: A Camp Counselor Job.
Teens can begin working as camp counselors during their high school years and continue throughout college if they choose. Some camps offer the opportunity for younger teens to begin as counselors-in-training during their junior high years.
A camp counselor job can offer your teen much more than just an income. Here are a few life skills your teen will acquire:
1. Responsibility. A camp counselor is assigned a group of kids and asked to look after their needs and help manage their schedules. Responsibilities include ensuring the children arrive at activities on time and overseeing such activities, helping with minor first aid and being a friend on a bad day or during a homesick moment. Teens gain maturity as they help young campers with needs that arise.
2. Endurance. Camp schedules are packed with activities to allow kids opportunity to experience as much fun as possible in a short amount of time. Camp counselors must keep up, even on days they feel tired or unmotivated. Counselor Jamie Newman says, "The schedule is exhausting. You have to learn how to endure long days and persevere through exhaustion."
3. Selflessness. The teen years typically include spells of sour attitudes and selfish behaviors. A camp counselor role forces a teen to suppress his self-indulgent attitude and replace it with empathy and understanding for others. It shows teens how to put others' needs before their own, a valuable life skill that many teens never acquire.
4. Relationship skills. Camp counselors are thrown together with other counselors they don't know, some whom they might not particularly like. They're forced to learn how to get along with others while working toward a common goal. Meaningful relationships are built as counselors work alongside one another day after day.
5. Overcome fears. Camp is all about new adventures, for campers and counselors both. Newman says, "We were constantly pushed outside our comfort zone. I had to encourage kids to be adventuresome and try new things, which meant I had to do that too. Sometimes I felt ridiculous but I had to let go of my pride." Counselors gain self respect as they overcome their fears and push themselves outside their comfort levels.
6. Humility. Camp counselors learn how to work under someone else's leadership and follow directions. Counselors must do what's asked of them in taking care of kids and following a pre-determined schedule.
7. Self-Esteem. What a great feeling to know you're investing in others. That's the feeling a camp counselor experiences every day at camp. Whether it's one week or ten weeks, camp counselors go home knowing they've made a difference in young children's lives and that's something to be proud of!
For a job that offers life skills (plus an income), consider a camp counselor position for your teen. Camps of all varieties fill their staff with teenagers who offer fun and camaraderie. Match the interests of your teen – sports, music, education, nature, etc. – with an appropriate camp and watch your teen blossom. As camp counselors, our teens gain valuable experience that offers lifelong lessons and memories in the process.
As a freelance journalist and mom to five kids, Gayla Grace has witnessed her own children grow and mature as a result of the camp counselor experience.
Check out our Camp Directory. If interested in counselor or counselor-in-training opportunities, contact the camps of interest and inquire about their counselor offerings.