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 16, 2011

Summer camp job interview tips

Many of of the applicants at Maine Arts Camp tell us that this is their first real interview. Some of the questions we ask are thought provoking and and can make the applicant quite nervous. Here are some tips to keep in mind when interviewing for camp jobs:

*Be yourself - try to relax and think of the interview as a conversation with new acquaintances.
*Be professional - you are not talking with your friends in an informal atmosphere.
*Avoid certain phrases and words - if you have the tendency to use the word "like" or expressions such as "you know", take your time and put together thoughtful responses to questions. We have had applicants use the word "like" at least 50 times in several interviews. This is a big turnoff!
*Learn about the camp - we often start by asking "why are you interested in working at our camp? Many applicants have general responses. The ones that have read through our web site and are interested in being part of our camp community really stand out.
*Team player - be open to filling in where needed at camp. I have talked about this several times in other blogs. If an applicant is set as to what their role should be at camp, it can be difficult from day one.
*Why summer camp jobs? - think about why you really want to work at a camp. If it just sounds like fun, you're applying for the wrong reason and may want to research other types of jobs. Camp counselors work very hard (24/7). It can be exhausting, but very rewarding. Are you ready to put much of your "normal" life on hold for the summer?
*"I don't know" - don't be afraid to say you don't know in an interview. It is better than fumbling through an incoherent answer.
*Learning experience - take the interview as a learning experience, so you're better prepared for the next one.
*Be open - there are so many quality camps and camp jobs available. Don't get stuck on one camp. Be ready to move on to what seems to be your second or third choice. This may also help to keep you relaxed during an interview.
*Be flexible - do you have plans during the summer? Are these plans necessary? If you really want a camp job, it's "all in" for the time you're at camp. Let camp directors know you're ready for the summer and will be there for whatever they need.
*Listen & learn - have you worked at camp before? If so, you may have pre-conceived notions of what camp should be. Every camp is different. Learn about the underlying philosophy of each camp and do your best to buy in.
*Have some questions ready - this shows good preparation and will also make you think more about the interview and camp.

Many thanks to Noel Corpuel of Camp Wayne for Girls. His interview questions got us off to a great start several years ago.
Also thanks to Gary Forster. We attended one of his sessions at a camping conference and he also had a great format for interviews.

Best of luck in the interview process for summer camp jobs!

Rick Mades
Camp Director, Maine Arts Camp
Owner, MySummers (the best resource for camp jobs) & Camp Finders (since 1994)