I’ve talked a lot about why working at summer camp is the best job in the world, how being a summer camp counselor can benefit the rest of your life, and even why it’s a great option for your gap year, so I’m assuming by now that you’re pretty sold on the idea of heading to America for a few months and having the best summer of your life.
But what about when you return home after this amazing summer, or at the end of your incredible gap year? What happens when you have to come back to ‘reality’ and set out on the job hunt? How can you use your summer at camp on your resumé in a positive way, when everyone competing for the same jobs has just spent their summers doing internships in some fancy offices (I feel sorry for them)?
What a lot of people don’t seem to understand about working as a summer camp counselor (and if they’ve never done it, they’ll NEVER get it), is that it probably prepares you for the working world much better than any internship spent fetching coffee will ever do.
You learn to work as part of a team, you learn responsibility, not only for yourself and your campers, but for the rest of your colleagues too. You learn to find solutions to your own problems, but you also learn the importance of asking for help. You learn to think on your feet, and to always have a back up plan. I could talk about this all day.
So, now you’ve been to camp and you’ve mastered all these awesome life skills, how do you present yourself to future employers without just saying ‘oh yeah, I spent the summer playing with kids in the sunshine‘? Because, while the employer may not understand this, you and I both know that there’s a lot more to being a summer camp counselor than that. So how do you make them realise what a valuable experience working at summer camp really is?
Well, it’s all in the wording. And the phrasing. When you write your resumé, don’t just put ‘Summer Camp Counselor – taught tennis and looked after children aged 10 and 11 for 8 weeks’. Make it sound as impressive as it really is.
Try something like this:
‘Summer Camp Counselor – Coached Tennis lessons to children aged 7-15; responsible for structuring lesson plans, organising and managing time, safety conditions, and keeping courts & equipment in excellent condition. Also had my own group of children aged 10-12, for whom I was wholly responsible, caring for their everyday needs, developing & achieving routines and activities, and succesfully resolving any conflicts that arose.”
You could even add in some bullet points to take it a step further, such as:
- Encouraged respect for personal property, camp equipment and facilities.
- Set an excellent example for campers and fellow counselors in all areas, including attitude, cleanliness, rules and reliability.
- Collaborated with other counselors to provide well rounded activities and experience for the campers.
- Responded to any problems with maturity and a positive outlook, utilising leadership skills
- Identified and responded to any camper behaviour issues.
- Guided campers in participating fully and successfully in all aspects of camp life and activities.
So you see, it’s all in the way you say it. It’s not exaggerating, or lying, it’s just simply about specifying the skills you learned and put into practice at camp, using slightly different, and more eloquent wording.
This article from the ACA goes further to describe what employers are looking for and how you can use your camp experience to show why they should hire YOU! I’d highly recommend you check it out.