I worked at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts summer camp in upstate New York a few years ago. It was awesome – one of the best summers of my life. If you or anyone you know is thinking about it, I say go for it. Here’s why…
1. Summer camp is a crazy and new experience. The whole thing from start to finish is a surreal world that is hard to describe and understand, unless you’ve been there. Working with the kids and other counselors every day, and learning about them is as much of a culture shock as anything else.
2. You’ll learn new skills you can use in the future, and it looks great on your CV. No matter what industry you’re going into afterwards you will gather transferable skills at summer camp that will serve you well. Working alongside people so closely, time management, interpersonal skills – they’re all lifelong skills.
3. You get to travel the USA afterwards. Many counselors stay at co counselors houses, or even sometimes the camper’s. You’re guaranteed to make lifelong friends who are only too pleased to take you in at home. If that’s not your thing (it wasn’t mine!) arranging car rental in the USA is relatively easy and you could gather a few friends together and go on a road trip. Working at camp is a cheap way to explore the USA, as you’ll often get to go on paid for day trips with camp too.
4. You get paid to be a kid again. Not very much, granted, but you do get paid to make stuff, play in the pool, go horseriding, make films, play on the circus equipment – it’s awesome. You get to do things you’ve never done before, these summer camps are huge and have everything possible to keep 5-18 year olds happy. The best counselors know how to mix their childish side with some authority.
5. You get to be outside all day. No more office or crappy bar work for you – you’re outside from dawn till dusk and away from all communication. You could look at summer camp as a ‘digital detox’ or you could just look at it as a brilliant summer away from a desk – either way you’d be right.
6. Get free accommodation, food and drink for 9-12 weeks. One of the main reasons I went to work at summer camp was because I actually couldn’t afford to do anything else. As soon as you get to camp all your accommodation is sorted and you’re guaranteed three meals a day, even on your days off. It’s a great way to live a different life for a few weeks at no expense to you. You don’t have to spend a penny if you don’t want to.
7. The people you meet. You’re sure to meet some characters, that’s guaranteed. Whether they’re your fellow counselors, your superiors or the kids, you’ll meet some great people at camp. Some of the people I met are now my very best of friends, and the others, I had a great time while it lasted. You never know who you’ll meet along the way; I met a guy who was a magazine publisher’s son and I managed to get an internship in New York out of it. I also met David Hasselhoff’s kids, and the big man himself on parents day.
8. You get to use your talents. How often in life are you truly appreciated for a creative necklace you made, or a ceramics pot that blows all the other ceramics pots out the water, or even your mad magic skills? At camp you will be loved and adored for all this and more. You get to share your knowledge and great sense of humour with some brilliant children and hopefully somehow, have some sort of positive effect on their lives. What other reason do you need?