A few weeks ago we posted what was the first in a series of Q & A sessions with NYQUEST, a Canadian summer camp agency. Now they’re back with more answers to all your questions about the application process.
1. What makes an application stand out?
Agencies and camps look at hundreds of applications every year, so it is important to put your best foot forward and make your application really stand out!
- First things first, we can tell when an applicant speeds through their application, and when they poured their heart and soul into it, so be sure to take your time, and fill it in thoughtfully.
- Sell yourself! This is not a time to be modest. Be honest, but confident in your responses.
- Be clear about your experiences. When listing your experience, be sure to include the approximate dates and frequency, skill level, ages of children, and include examples of your own role in the activity.
- Be positive. We are looking for applicants who are excited about camp, and passionate about their chosen skills. You are applying for a job at camp, not in a bank, so don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm, and your personality. Just make sure you are come off as professional, and double check that grammar!
- Your application will be seen not only by the agency, but by camp directors, so be sure to use proper grammar, and proof-read your application before you submit it.
2. When do I need to be available?
Camp start dates can vary depending on the camp, and the position you are selected for, but camps generally need staff to arrive around mid June, and work until the end of August. Applying through NYQUEST you must be available from at least June 24th – August 22nd.
3. Let’s talk profile pictures.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! Your profile picture is the first thing that a camp director sees, and first impressions are really important. You want the photo to give them the impression that you’ll fit right in at camp, so be sure that your smiling face is front and center!
4. When should I apply?
Agencies have different application deadlines, many closing their applications sometime in April. NYQUEST accepts applications until at least the end of May, but generally speaking, the earlier you apply to the program the higher the chances that we will find a great camp placement for you that matches your preferences.
5. Is the application fee refundable?
Different agencies have different policies, but generally application fees are not refundable. If you are not accepted into the program your fees will usually be refunded.
6. What skills are you looking for? Do I need official certifications?
Camps look for staff with a wide variety of skills, so chances are you have some expertise in at least one camp related activity! From swimming to skateboarding, cycling to ceramics, tie dye to trapeze, camps are looking for them all! Did you complete a GCSE in drama? Did you have a blast trekking through your Duke of Edinburgh award? Were you a beach bum in your teens, kayaking, waterskiing or surf lifesaving? You do not need to have official certifications or teaching experience in theses skills, whether you are an expert in your chosen activities, or it is a hobby that you love to do in your spare time, you should include it on your application!
7. What should I include in my camp essay?
As the applications coordinator at NYQUEST, I read a LOT of essays. They usually start with “I was born to a loving mother and father on (birthdate) in (hometown)……..” If you can break from the typical format, and get a bit creative it will make your essay stand out. That said, we are not looking for a literary masterpiece, so don’t sweat it too much! We ask you to write an essay to get a sense of your personality, and to hear in your own words about the things in your life that make you, you. You will want to include details about your hobbies, extracurricular activities, volunteer positions, travel, childcare experience, etc. The best essays are entertaining to read, and draw connections between your personal experiences and the job you hope to do at camp.
After you finish writing your essay, make sure to proof-read it for spelling and grammar mistakes, punctuation, capital letters, and formatting. Although the essay is meant to be informal, it is a lot easier to read and reflects better on you if it has been well edited!
8. Who should I ask to fill in my reference forms?
A coach, teacher, mentor, employer, supervisor, babysitting client, or tutor would be a great option. Your references need to be someone in a position of authority that knows you in a professional or educational context. Unfortunately that means that coworkers, family friends or parents are off the table as references, no matter how much they could gush about your wonderful qualities!
9. The application is sooo long, why do I have to answer so many questions?
We know that camp applications are a bit of a beast, but every question helps us to get to know you better, so that we can do a better job placing you at a camp that fits your personality and skills! We know the camps we work with really well, and in order to make the perfect match we need to know you too!
10. I don’t have any teaching experience, can I still apply?
Yes definitely! Camp is a great place to gain more experience and build your resume for the future. You don’t need to have formal teaching experience in order to apply, but the more experience you can describe, the better. If you think back you will likely realize that you have more informal experience that you thought – have you taught a younger sibling or cousin to play your favorite sport? Do you walk a neighbor’s kids home from school? Are you the live entertainment for the kids at family parties?
11. Do you have recruitment fairs?
Yes we do! Most placement agencies have job fairs where a ton of camp directors fly all the way to the UK to meet applicants face to face. It is an awesome opportunity to find out about different camps, meet directors, and potentially get hired right on the spot! NYQUEST will be coming to the UK this January with lots of amazing camps! We will be in London January 16th, Leeds on January 17th, and in Dublin on January 18th, so come on by, we’d love to meet you in person!