So you’ve decided that you want to work at summer camp? Awesome. Now comes the hard part. I’m not going to lie, the application requires some serious thought, especially if you want to get hired somewhere great, and in a role that you are not only qualified for, but will enjoy too.
Whichever agency you choose to go with, all of them have a very similar application process (some might require you to make a video about yourself too…more on this in a coming post!) – fill out your details, highlight your experiences and qualifications in the different activity areas you could be involved with, answer the questions about your family & experience with children and, most importantly, tell them WHY you want to work at summer camp.
At first this can seem a little daunting, but my advice would be to just take it one step at a time, focusing on one question and then move onto the next. Don’t worry about what sounds ‘cool’ or ‘impressive’. Just be truthful and express yourself as best you can. Below I’ve laid out some application advice in 7 easy steps:
Step 1: This one’s simple. Just go for it. Make an account on the website of your chosen agency. Done? That’s the first step in the bag…you’re on your way to becoming a summer camp counselor!
Step 2: Fill everything out correctly and in as much detail as you can. Agencies and Camp Directors like to see that you have made an effort – it shows them that you are committed to really wanting this job.
Step 3: Photos and video. Make sure any photos you add to your application represent who you are – yes summer camp is weird and whacky, but put some thought into how you want to present yourself. If there is an option to post a video (more on this soon), put a lot of effort into it – camp directors will often look at the applications with videos first, and will switch off if it’s boring, so make it good!
Step 4: Don’t lie. This is a really important one. When you interview with your agency (and then again with a camp director), you could get asked about anything you write on the application. You may think you can bullshit your way through it now, but the agencies and camp directors have seen and heard it all before! For example, there is no use putting down that you are an expert waterski boat driver just because you fancy a summer on the water! Or saying you are an advanced ballet instructor when actually you just took a class when you were 6 and think you can remember most of it. Don’t feel the need to embellish the truth – everyone has their own special skills that they can bring to the role – honesty and personality are the big selling points.
Step 5: You have to get across that you do actually enjoy working with children (so you should rethink applying if you don’t). When looking at your application, camp directors ask themselves these questions – ‘Would I be happy leaving my child in this person’s care?’, ‘How caring will they be?’, ‘What can they teach my child about good character?’, ‘How will they make my child a better person?’. Really think about how you can answer these questions in your application, and if you do so successfully, you will immediately be in any camp director’s good books.
Step 6: Really think about your unique set of skills, as well as your experience working with children and how you could best apply that knowledge to working as a summer camp counselor. Maybe you haven’t actually ever taught anything before, but you have been a lifeguard at your local swimming pool (a highly in demand job at summer camp), or helped out in an after school homework club. If you are good at something, write an example of a time you actually did it – it means a lot more than simply stating you can do it. You will be more likely to get hired if a camp director thinks you have a particular skill or quality they can utilise, whether that’s just being fantastic with children in general, or being the greatest archery star there’s ever been.
Step 7: Make a great case as to why a summer camp should hire you. Not just because of your skills and experience with children, but something more. WHY do you want to work at summer camp? And what do you think YOU can bring to the table…what can you offer them? Maybe you just love working with kids? Maybe you want to be a teacher and this would be great experience? Maybe you want to travel? Maybe you are in a rut in your life and looking to do something totally out of your comfort zone? Are you a hard worker? Are you responsible and committed? Will you always put in 110%?
Whatever your reasons for wanting to work at summer camp, and whatever skills and experience you have to offer, if you can be passionate, honest, and genuinely dedicated in your application, your agency (and any camp directors they send it out to) will have a hard time turning you down. You’ll be hired in no time and on your way to the USA for the best summer of your life!