By Gayla Grace
Kids love to go to camp and experience new adventures, enjoy a break from everyday life, and make new friends. But as our kids get older we want them to experience a summer job and the benefits that go along with earning an income. Why not consider the perfect blend of both: a camp counselor job!
Teens can begin working as camp counselors during their high school years and continue during college as summer jobs if they choose. Some camps offer the opportunity for younger teens to begin as counselors-in-training during their junior high years. Our 13-year-old son will be working as a JCT (junior counselor-in-training) for two weeks this summer at a camp close to home and can’t wait to get started.
A camp counselor job has a lot to offer your teen other than just an income. Here are a few life skills your teen will learn as a camp counselor or counselor-in-training:
1. Responsibility » A camp counselor is assigned a group of kids and asked to look after their needs and help manage their schedule. Responsibilities include ensuring they’re at activities on time, helping with needs as they arise such as minor first aid or sunscreen application, playing with kids at activities, and being a friend on a bad day or during a homesick moment. Teens gain maturity as they help young campers with needs that arise.
2. Endurance » Camp schedules are packed with activities to allow the kids opportunity to experience as much fun as possible in a short amount of time. Camp counselors must keep up, even on days they feel tired or unmotivated. “The schedule is exhausting—you have to learn how to endure long days and persevere through exhaustion,” says counselor Jamie Newman.
3. Selflessness » The teen years typically include spells of sour attitudes and selfish behaviors. A camp counselor role forces a teen to remove his self-indulgent attitude and replace it with empathy and understanding for others. It allows teens to learn how to put others’ needs before their own, a valuable life skill.
4. Relationship skills » Camp counselors are thrown together with other counselors they don’t know, some whom they might not like. They’re forced to learn how to get along with others while working toward a common goal. Meaningful relationships are built as counselors work alongside one another day after day.
5. Overcome fears » Camp is all about new adventures, for campers and counselors both. Newman says, “We were constantly pushed outside our comfort zone. I had to encourage kids to be adventuresome and try new things, which meant I had to do that too. Sometimes I felt ridiculous but I had to let go of my pride.” Counselors gain self-respect as they overcome their fears and push themselves outside their comfort levels.
6. Humility » Camp counselors learn how to work under someone else’s leadership and follow directions. Counselors must do what’s asked of them in taking care of kids and following a pre-determined schedule.
7. Self-esteem » What a great feeling it is to know you’re investing in others! That’s the feeling a camp counselor experiences every day at camp. Whether it’s one week or ten weeks, camp counselors go home knowing they’ve made a difference in young children’s lives and that’s something to be proud of.
If your teen needs a job that offers life skills with an income, consider a camp counselor position. Camps of all varieties fill their staff with teenagers that offer fun and camaraderie with young campers. Match the interests of your teen—sports, music, education, etc.—with an appropriate camp and watch your teen blossom. As camp counselors, our teens gain valuable experience that offers lifelong lessons and memories in the process. n