Be a Camp Counselor, Learn Skills for Life

Posted: January 11 2018

Hi CM Family,

Once again this is Jason coming to you with a winter edition of Woody’s Word. As is customary for any of my posts, I am sorry that these are my words and not the brilliant orations of our esteemed Assistant Director, but I think he will approve of our topic today: how working at camp can help you prepare for your first job and future career.

Today I happened to come upon this recent article by Paul Petrone, an editor at LinkedIn, discussing the results of a survey the company conducted with 2,000 business leaders. The survey asked what “soft skills” they’d most like to see their employees learn most. Soft Skills refer to intangibles and people skills as opposed to certain trade-specific skills like coding or statistical analysis. Though there are some great camps for these type of skills (check out the best coding summer camps). According to the article, the majority of leaders surveyed said that Soft Skills were more important when looking at a candidate and, of these skills, these are the ones they deem most important:

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Time Management

While this list isn’t anything shocking, as these qualities are major factors when we interview potential staff at Menominee, I could not help but think that camp is the perfect setting to hone these skills. We preach this non-stop with some of our veteran staff who are contemplating taking an “internship” to pad a resume instead of coming to camp each summer. Lets walk through just parts of a potential average day in the life of a camp counselor, we’ll call him Michael.

When Michael wakes up in the morning he is responsible for getting his cabin of 8 year old boys out of bed and into the mess hall for breakfast. However, today is Michael’s day to be “on-line”, so he has to serve the meal which requires waking up earlier to prepare. Michael made sure to discuss this with his co-counselor and let him know he’d be on his own with the kids that morning. After breakfast, Michael will go back to his cabin and help his kids do cabin cleanup. This is usually very easy since 8 year old boys are always so eager to sweep, mop and make their beds…

Michael then heads out to basketball as this is his area of expertise. He has 2 instructional periods this morning, juniors first then seniors, and must organize his staff to effectively lead two high-engery periods across a wide range of skill-sets. After lunch Michael usually has a rest period with his cabin, but this is his day of the week to catch up with the directors and go over how things are going in the cabin. This strategic meeting covers cabin issues, camper goals, co-counselor communication and ways Michael and the Directors can support each other.

The rest of the day Michael can coast along…he just needs to schedule his league games, help his campers write a fun song for our evening camp fire, make sure his campers takes showers, find time to do his weekly cabin write-up, get his kids to sleep, monitor the cabin compound after lights out and find time to get some rest so he can do it all again tomorrow…

In order for Michael to be successful at camp for just one day, he needs to effectively lead, communicate, collaborate and manage his time. We did not even get into administrative responsibilities that our staff earn as their camp careers grow.

Maybe as Camp Directors we need to do a better job of showing our staff how to effectively communicate the myriad of roles they play in a summer camp setting and the important skills they have developed. I don’t know about you, but I think our counselors should get a Masters in Soft Skills after their summers at camp.




Woody's Word,