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

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A summer camp perspective

We have been at camp since June 28, starting with early staff arriving, then staff training and finally campers on July 6. This summer's start was the hottest I have ever seen, the hottest weather in the East since 2001. Usually Maine has pleasant days in the 70's and about 60 at night. Homesickness + hot weather is a bad combination, but in general our campers and staff have perservered. It is great to see campers and staff so happy and involved in the daily and evening activities. Improv night was a great choice for the first evening activity and last night's capture the flag was a hit. If any college students are reading this blog, and you're considering working with children for your livelihood, applying for summer camp jobs should be high on your list. This is especially true for residential camps. I talked with a staff member yesterday who had worked at a day camp and they so value the stronger connections that are made in living with campers 24/7. It is more challenging, but much more gratifying.

What's amazing is how the days fly at camp. It is so busy that there isn't time to think and reflect. I probably should be roaming around watching activities right now, but wanted to take a few minutes to think about the past couple of weeks. I just stepped out in the middle of this
blog and saw our African Infused Dance activity. Amazing stuff!

Besides working with campers on homesickness, it can be more of a challenge working with parents. They often receive a letter 3-4 days after camp has started. That letter was written the first day, when their child's homesickness was at a peak. As a parent, those are heart wrenching letters to read, even if we have sent them pre camp packets warning them that they could receive such a letter. If the camper is still homesick after 3 days, we call the parents so that they are not surprised to receive such a letter. The harder parents to work with often are ones that we haven't called. If campers are not exhibiting homesickness, there is no reason to call or to bring up home to those campers. We want them to have fun and make friends, which naturally happens at camp. Some of the parents we haven't called can't believe that their child is doing well and with a no phone call policy for 2 week campers, it can be challenging to deal with. But, working through these issues is all worth it as campers come home more independent, confident and having grown is so many ways.

Staff who take summer camp jobs at residential camps shouldn't just look at working as a camp counselor as any job. It is a life changing experience for most staff. Some of you may find that working and living with kids is not for you and that is ok. But, many of our staff have told us that after working at camp, they know that this is their life calling.

Have a great summer and think about applying at MySummers for summer 2011, the best site for summer camp jobs!

Rick Mades
Camp Director, Maine Arts Camp
Owner, MySummers & Camp Finders