Camp Staff

Summer Camp Counselor or Internship?

By Stacie Hoppman November 7, 2018

As the cold weather sets in and we pull our winter coats from storage, donning sweaters and hoodies and hats to ward off the biting wind and forecasted snow, it seems odd to be talking about summer jobs. However, many college students have probably already started dusting off their resumes and adding new lines of experience that they have gained since last year, preparing for the competitive race to come. Each year, it seems the pressure to find the best internship, the best co-op or practicum or work study mounts—that perfect experience that will set them above their peers as everyone struggles to prepare themselves for the workforce and adulthood.

With more students enrolling in college each year and competition mounting for internships (and especially paid internships), the rivalry for such jobs is no doubt greater than it ever has been before. Many fields of study now require internships for graduation, adding to the workloads that students shoulder. It’s hard, when looking at a job like “Summer Camp Counselor,” to not simply dismiss it because it’s not “career launching” or “resume building.”

However, we’d like to contest these claims. What you do as a summer camp counselor absolutely matters just as much, if not more, as that 20-year-old who landed an internship doing filing and fetching coffee at Google. A summer camp counselor is one who spends their days (and nights) nurturing, teaching, growing, organizing, leading, comforting, and inspiring. If you can’t sell that on a resume, then you’re not doing it right.

As a summer camp counselor, you devote hours to teaching kids how to handle issues of self-esteem, questions of faith, bullying, homesickness, and struggles at home. You walk with them through loneliness, joy, fear, discovery, and love. You teach them how to speak up when they need something, how to paddle a kayak, how to handle conflict, how to read their Bible, how to shoot an arrow, how to make new friends, and how to love themselves and others. What is more important than that?

The work you do as a summer camp counselors is absolutely preparing you for any future career. It is here where you will have to learn to work closely with a team of people and manage projects and schedules together with others. You’ll need to set goals, develop good time management skills, and be accountable for your own decisions. You will learn to teach and instruct others, to be flexible and adapt when necessary, and to adjust plans and curriculum based on the group in front of you. You’ll learn how to motivate, how to encourage, and how to be firm. You’ll learn how to work under stress and to be available and ready at all times, day or night, six days a week.

Adulthood will come. Careers will come. This summer, why not do something that matters? Why not spend a summer at camp? And you might find that you have a little fun along the way, too.