I’ve been lucky enough to have 3 summers under my belt at two different summer camps in America! Having camp experience on your CV is a great conversation starter – “So you worked at a Camp in America? What was that like?” I’ve been asked this question in every interview I’ve had after camp. Whatever you do make sure you give a great professional response lined up. Saying “Oh yeah it was great but we had to work 24 hours a day and we only got one day off a week. It was kind of exhausting!” NO! Camp has loads of positives! So make sure you mention some of the things that will help you get that job!
You look after other people’s children! A dozen at the same time! Who has a dozen children really? Other than those families with their own TV show? Not all parents let their kids have a sleepover with their friends or is limited per year! As a camp counselor you get the joy of doing this every night for 9 weeks! Lucky you! You also get to ensure they eat 3 meals a day, go to activities, play sports and take them out of camp on outings. All the meantime making sure you don’t lose them and make sure they are returned safe to thier families at the end of the summer…no pressure! Camp is fun. Promise! And yes, I taught kids riflery….America!
Camp has a tight schedule. It’s your job to ensure you are where you need to be and your kids are too! Wake up > Raise the flag > Breakfast > Period 1-3 off activities > Lunch > Period 4-6 > Free time > Dinner > Evening activity > Bedtime! 5 days a week! Your new boss might appreciate someone who is on time for work!
ADAPT TO CHANGE EASILY
Company’s love to mix things up every once and a while! If it’s not moving desks, it’s moving offices, changing the way they work or moving people to different departments. They like to know you are completely on board and adaptable. Camp is a massive change in pace to your normal day to day life. You’re moving and working in a different country. You’ve picked up your life and moved across the pond. You’re living out of a suitcase and adjusting to American culture. If you can do this, moving desks really isn’t a big deal!
PLANNING AND ORGANISING
Most counselors get hired to teach a particular sport or activity at camp. I taught fencing, riflery and Archery. All the “dangerous” activities and sports…I’m super responsible! Apparently? These require some lesson planning and preparation before the kids turn up. You also managed to get yourself to America in the first place. That VISA alone and the trip to the embassy you should get an award for! Don’t forget organising all your post camp travels. That’s more fun but still requires a lot of planning! It’s fair to point out your new boss might want some assurance you can get stuff done on your own.
Yes! You’re great at keeping secrets! Before camp starts you get given private information of your kids. Where they’re from, who they are friends with, who their parents are and most importantly all the hundreds of things they are allergic too. There’s always that one child who comes to camp bubble wrapped. Bless! The company you’re interviewing with will be happy to know you can be trusted with their private information or maybe thier clients.
YOU’RE A ROLE MODEL
Can you believe it? Yes, the children look up to you. You’re there to guide them and set an example. You still need to be fun and outgoing but you still need to be respected by the kids or they won’t listen to you. This skill will come in handy when they are looking to promote you…management material! You’ve looked after 12 American kids for 9 weeks…you can handle a team of your own no problem!
You’re great with people…obviously! Of all ages. At camp you get to meet people from all over the whole. Not just Americans. Camps employee people from lots of different countries. You’ll need to work with your fellow camp counselors to run activities or events. Some of your favourite people to get to know will work in the kitchen….they have the food! Be nice to them! They are mostly all students from European countries wanting to develop their English but defiantly get to know them as they are studying some amazing degrees! Super clever stuff! The catering staff are some of the nicest and friendliest people you will meet at camp. Employers who work for international companies sometimes need you to communicate with other offices around the world.
Sometimes you get pulled up to be in evening activity or do a skit in front of everyone at camp. No problem! You never know what it’s about but you just go with the flow. As long as the kids are laughing and having a good time it doesn’t matter you are making a fool out of yourself. You also need to be confident with decisions you make with your kids. Stand firm by your choice and don’t let your guard down. You’re the boss! So when your new boss needs you to step in and lead a presentation…you’re ready! No problem!
Sometimes at camp things just don’t go to plan. Like rain! As a Brit we are used to rain but in America at camp it can be a huge problem. Think outside the box and think of some fun things for the kids to do. If not….a little rain won’t kill them! Dance in the rain! You’ll always get a problem solving question in an interview. Get a good answer ready! “Well, this one time at camp…!”
You might not have a creative bone in your body but one summer at camp and you’ll have paint dyed into hands till Christmas! Get stuck in and help your kids make masterpieces for the folks…which they will instantly throw away when they get home. Or a pottery piece that was supposed to be an animal sculpture but at the end looks like….a lump of clay! Your PowerPoint presentations are going to look amazing!
So there you go. Good luck in getting that job and just try not to say AWESOME in your interview!