Non-camp people always ask me what it is I love most about camp. As many camp people often do, sometimes I’ll just say, “Kamp is the best. Once you’ve been there, you’ll just get it!” Although I wish that “getting it” were enough of a reason for everyone to want to work at a summer camp, I’d like try and explain why working at camp is one of the greatest things you can do – both for yourself and for the children you’ll meet.
Camp offers the unique opportunity to work in a beautiful outdoor environment, teach invaluable activity and life skills, and help children grow and have fun in a safe, accepting community. As a camp counselor you are the campers’ coach, teacher, support system, cheerleader, and role model. You will have fun being goofy and silly, dancing to classic songs like, “The YMCA” and helping campers to do the same. You will have the satisfaction of helping young people and knowing you have made a difference. The impact you will have on the children you work with at camp will be immeasurable.
The experience you will get working at a summer camp will be equally as impactful for you, providing essential life and career skills required in any job industry. It is easy to think that the experience of working at a camp only applies to someone hoping to go into a teaching career one day. While yes, it’s true that future teachers will gain priceless kid experience from camp, camp staff have gone on to work in a HUGE range of professions — from world-class biathlon skiers to members of the pharmaceutical industry, film producers to pediatricians, and even San Franciscan chefs. Staff have taken their Kohut experiences to places I could only dream of! Leadership, time-management, teamwork, independence, flexibility, organization and responsibility are just a few of the many life and career skills you will take with you as you navigate a future job search.
In a picturesque setting, camp will introduce you to people from all over the world. Your campers will come from all over the U.S. (Massachusetts, Georgia, Washington D.C., California, Florida, New York…the list goes on) and also from Spain, France, Japan, Canada, China and more. Campers will share with you daily bits and pieces of their own culture, traditions, and languages. Your co-counselors will also come from all of the U.S. — as well as England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Spain. After camp, they will invite you to their countries, introduce you to their culture, and visit you back home. You will leave camp with international knowledge and, of course, friends.
Finally, once you have worked at camp you are a part of a larger camp family forever. In our case, the Kohut family. The bonds made at camp, not only with the people but the place, will stay with you for a lifetime. You will hear songs on the radio that immediately bring you back to camp dances. You will find yourself daydreaming of Lake Thompson. You will teach all of your family and friends back home your favorite campfire song (I know it’s “The Princess Pat,” just admit it!). You will connect with other Kohut alumni when networking for jobs. Thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, you’ll follow your former co-counselors as they travel the world, pursue interesting careers, and start families. And, hopefully, you will one day travel back to Oxford, Maine and walk The Pines. No matter where you are or where you go, you will always be a part of the Kohut family.
Before I became the staff coordinator at Kohut, I worked for a corporation which headhunted for independent schools. I once had a Head of School say to me when discussing hiring for her prestigious private school, “If I see camp experience on a resume, that person’s automatically getting an interview. What more could I want from my staff?” In that moment I almost felt like this woman was reading my mind. As with me, she just “got it.”