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University of Colorado Boulder Program in Jewish Studies

Working at Summer Camp Builds Skills for the Future

As the school year wraps up, students long for the summer. This time of year can be a great opportunity for young people to build professional and leadership skills that will prepare them for the future.  Spending a summer working at camp provides the opportunity to learn many practical job skills; while spending the days in shorts and having fun. Students and new graduates need a break from the grind of the school year, a summer job is an opportunity to earn a salary and experience financial independence. The skills gained working at a summer camp are numerous and are transferable across industries.

“Hiring managers across all different industries look for some common skill sets in their hirings,” highlights Jenn Bender, EdM, MBA. “Organizations are looking for professionals who demonstrate dedication, strong communication skills, effective collaboration skills, adaptability, problem-solving, and willingness to take on challenges, among other things.”

In addition to gaining all these skills, a young person might find that camping or working with children would be a good professional track for them to consider. Exposure to this work environment opens up a whole new world of possible careers in early childhood development, education, and recreation studies. While a camp is looking for responsible, engaged, active, and friendly staff you should expect to gain some of the skills listed here.

Leadership

Leadership is a huge component of a counselor’s role. Counselors learn how to build and strengthen the relationships of their campers and their parents. They need to be able to listen to the needs and wants of their campers and how to be empathic to these needs. With experience, a counselor will know when to be an authority figure to ensure the care and safety of each camper, all done with a sense of humor.

Project Management and Communication

Counselors are responsible for their bunk of campers each with individual needs that need to be met. This means remembering allergies, medications, each campers’ schedule for the day, and making sure everyone is happy and having fun. Counselors are also responsible for planning multiple activities for their campers throughout the week. They have to make sure they have the materials they need, that they have communicated with any of the staff members needed to help with the programs, and then implement and run everything.  Camp is not a one man show, as a counselor, you need to communicate and work with staff members on many different levels. Counselors do this on a regular and daily basis.

Creativity and Adaptability

Camp is planned out in advance but sometimes unexpected events happen, like a storm or sudden change in weather. There is nothing like the immediate need to figure out what to do with a bunk of campers staring at you once they are inside and safe. Counselors learn to be ready with games and activities. Transitions between activities is a great opportunity for creativity to bring something fun and special to your bunk. Counselors get to use their imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Activity planning, managing expectations, and helping your campers have a great experience are a regular part of a counselor’s role.

Just like camp is a place for campers to learn and grow, the same goes for the staff. Counselors have a full team to help reflect and discuss what needs to get done for things to run more smoothly. This means staff consistently have an opportunity for growth and learning. Imagine learning that kind of resilience in a supportive workplace committed to your development as a future leader. Being a counselor isn’t all fun and games but American Camping Association Kim Aycock, states it best Being a camp counselor is perhaps the hardest job you will ever love.”

The Boulder JCC is currently hiring counselors for Summer 2019. We are looking for young adults over the age of 18 to spend the summer being role models for campers 5-12 years old from May 23 – August 12, 2019. If interested or if you know a young adult we should reach out to, please contact the Boulder JCC Camp Director, Julia Paeglis, at Julia.Paeglis@boulderjcc.org.

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