Summer camp jobs - a place to grow!

Welcome everyone to my blog. Running a residential camp (Maine Arts Camp), as well as MySummers (a staffing site) and Camp Finders (a summer camp referral service), I have gained a unique perspective about sleepaway camps. I first attended camp in 1970 in Maine; I'm still at camp and love it!

Rick Mades

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

summer camp jobs & interviews

Now that we are in mid March, most camps open within 3 months. With the overall job market so tight, college students would be well served to explore summer camp jobs sooner rather than later. At Maine Arts Camp, we are fully staffed for male counselors and may hire another 2-4 female staff in a month or so, depending upon enrollment. We have had lots of quality applications and have an older and more mature staff than ever. We have many graduating college students on staff this summer. For college students, taking a summer camp job makes a lot of sense at this time. At sleepaway camps, staff get their room and board taken care of and most camps will offer some sort of travel allowance for staff who live a good distance from camp. Also, living and working with a team of staff helps to prepare young college students and graduates for the work force.

At camp, we talk about staff "wearing many hats". If an applicant is looking to fill a specific role only and isn't willing to fill in wherever needed, we don't hire that person. I don't know how each college career service prepares their students for interviews, but getting across to students that they need to be "ready, willing & able" to be part of a team and jump in where needed would be the first thing I would talk about. This underlying thought process doesn't just work at camps, but any job. Is it hard work being a camp counselor (especially at a sleepaway camp)? Sure it is, but after a summer working and living with kids, most staff should easily transition into a 9-5 job. What else should applicants think about when applying to work at a summer camp job? Since we receive so many applications, we look more carefully at the ones that take the time to fill out our staff application with some thought, care and sincerity. If an applicant can't express why he or she wants to work at our camp specifically, then we usually don't even offer an interview.

We were very impressed with career services at Alfred University last month. We spent a few days at Alfred for a job fair, a meeting with interested students and many interviews (7 in two days). We later did several phone interviews and ended up hiring 5 Alfred College students, 3 of which are graduating this year. Since we're a small camp, with only about 33-34 counselors living with the campers (dorm counselors), 5 from one school was amazing! Keep in mind that Alfred is known for its arts programs, so Maine Arts Camp is a great match for Alfred students. Thanks to Kevin Jacobs and the rest of the career staff at Alfred! They are such good advocates for the students and do the hard work to make sure that students have every opportunity to succeed.

Applying at MySummers enables applicants to apply and get their information directly out to interested camp directors. MySummers is unique in that after an applicant fills out the registration form, his/her application is immediately e-mailed to camp directors. This method makes it easy for camp directors and qualified applicants to find each other. There are other summer camp jobs sites on the web and applicants should explore all avenues. Applicants need to be pro-active and stick with it. We had an applicant call yesterday who had sent in her application about a month ago. Although we're still not interviewing her at this time, we will if enrollment picks up. I also gave her a couple of summer camp jobs sites to register with. A site that has a good number of job listings is Summercampstaff. For good advice on jobs, internships and more, go to Quint Careers. Good luck in your search for a summer camp job!

Rick Mades
owner of Camp Finders & MySummers
owner/director of Maine Arts Camp

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