Being a camp counsellor is a real job

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The role of camp counsellor qualifies as a bona fide summer job—the kind a post-secondary graduate should be proud to have on their resume.
 
Beyond friendship bracelets, campfires, and toasting marshmallows, summer camps teach staff and campers alike the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. 
 
Somewhere in the last few decades in Canada, camp jobs developed a reputation for not being demanding or serious work. The level of responsibility necessary to be a camp counsellor is often undermined by the image of camp that pops into an employer’s mind when they see it on a resume.  
 
While it used to be typical for camp staff to work summers all the way through university until they graduated, some no longer consider that enough to obtain a high-level job after graduation. 
 
However, despite the pressure to work in an internship or an office during the summer months, many students still turn to camps to gain meaningful development and experience. 
 
A project funded by the Canadian Camping Association at the University of Waterloo found that individuals who have spent their summers at camp in any capacity reap significant benefits. Skills learned at camp include personal development, confidence, emotional intelligence, social integration and citizenship, and environmental awareness. 
 
According to the American Camp Association, hiring managers across a variety of industries all look for similar skillsets in their hiring process. Corporations look for candidates who demonstrate dedication, strong communication and collaboration skills, adaptability, problem-solving, and willingness to meet challenges head-on.
 
Summers at camp prepare staff to work in fast-paced and often unpredictable environments. 
 
In order to organize an outdoor activity for 200 campers on a rainy day, you need to think on your feet, adapt to the situation, and gather all the resources on hand to quickly change gears. Moreover, there’s no better customer service training available than taking a call from an anxious parent whose child has had trouble adjusting to camp life.
 
Personally, being a camp counsellor has also taught me the value of forming real relationships, and the importance of not taking yourself too seriously. There are few other places where you get to be one hundred per cent authentic, whether the best version of yourself or the worst. 
 
Job seekers with camp counselling experience must clearly convey the extent to which their skills apply in the context of their potential job, and employers should be amenable to considering strong candidates with camp experience. 
 
Camp counsellors are hard-working, resilient, and dedicated individuals. Hire them.
 
Sasha is one of The Journal’s Copy Editors. She is a second-year Political Studies student.
 

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