One of our boys’ favorite books growing up was The Perfect Nest.
It’s a fun story that starts with a cat thinking just about himself and ends with him becoming a part of something much larger than himself. And, like summer camp, the book is best when it’s performed with gusto.
That is not the only similarity with camp, though. Just like the main character in The Perfect Nest, most of our summer camp counselors learn becoming a meaningful part of something larger than themselves is the true measure of success.
Summer camp is all about the people. Yes, we’ve got big lakes, tall trees, fun fields, nice pools, hilarious evening activities and (pretty) good food. But, when you have a fantastic collection of people all focused on creating an amazing experience for everyone?
All you really need is a parking lot.
Each of our boys can name the handful of counselors that have made the biggest impact on them. And, in each one of those cases, we could not be more proud. If they turn out like Hollywood, Robotics Sam, Big Len, or any of the others they’ll name instantly, our planet will be a better place.
These ‘near peers’ are hugely important for our campers. So much so that the American camping Association head of research, Dr. Laurie Browne, was really surprised to see just how impressive the effect can be. (More on that next week….)
But it’s not just about the kids.
Becoming Your Best Self
Serving as a summer camp counselor may be the most important internship that any young person can attempt. The lessons learned and experienced gain helps not only in the ‘help you find a job’ near term - because it certainly does.
In fact, if you want to increase your leadership ability, deepen your empathy, develop your creativity and practice your teamwork, there is no better place than summer camp.
More importantly, though, are the two “R’s” you’ll earn: responsibility and relationships. These will serve as a launching pad into the longer term goal of becoming a great human.
Employers are clamoring for people with excellent soft skills. Communication, Leadership, Problem Solving, Teamwork, Creativity…. All are developed at summer camp. To this, I would add ‘Others Focused’, ‘Trainable’, and ‘Trustworthy.’
Want to prove you would be a great addition to any team? Show them you can lead a group of 9 year olds for multiple weeks during the summer, through the ups and downs of living together. Through snorts of laughter and grunts of sickness. Through nervous appeals for friendship to the soft tears of separation.
If you can help create a community that feels that way about each other, anybody worth their salt will want you. And, if they don’t, worry not - you don’t want them.
Job Ready, Life Ready
However, making a positive ripple in the life of a child? That will make you ready for a life of meaning.
I hope you’ll take a moment to listen to our Campfire Conversation with Kim Aycock.
Kim has worked with, taught, and studied Gen Z and is full of great information and stories about working at camp. If you are a parent with a potential summer camp staff member, someone who wants to know a little more about summer camp staff, or someone interested in working at camp, Kim gives us wonderful insight to working at summer camp.