For Parents searching for the right sleepaway camp, here are some questions to think about:
*What type of community does the camp try to create? (this is an important question)
*What is the size of the camp?
*Is the camp more on the competitive or non-competitive bent?
*Is there a religious focus with the camp?
*How does the camp handle new campers, cliques and bullying?
*What is the communication policy for parents and their children?
*Connected with the communication policy, how do camps handle homesickness?
*What is the level of instruction in most of the activities (experienced staff/teachers)?
These questions are also relevant for staff, especially those trying to understand how sleepaway camps work and why their policies are in place.
Having staff invested in the mission of the camp helps to create an environment of positive growth for staff, campers, administrators and the whole camp community.
For Staff applying for summer camp jobs:
We are in the heavy time of year for interviewing staff. So, this is a
good time for tips about applying for summer camp jobs, specifically at
overnight camps. The first impression can make or break the
application. The most important question on our application is why the applicant wants to work at Maine Arts Camp.
As a camp director, I want to know why
an applicant wants to work as a camp counselor at our camp. Our staff are generally very
invested in our non-competitive, inclusive camp community. Often time,
we get applicants who let us know that they're applying to get more
experience, which will help them get a teaching job. That is a good
reason for an applicant to apply, but we want staff who totally buy into
what our camp is all about (philosophically) and have reasons to work
at our camp on a deeper level. Also, we are not looking to give staff
experience; we usually want staff who already have a decent amount of
experience working with kids.
So, where to start in filling out
summer camp jobs applications? First, and this works in any industry,
get to know the camp or business you're applying to work for. See if
their philosophy fits yours. If an applicant just tells us that he or
she is interested in the arts and being in Maine, that is not a
compelling reason for us to give an interview. A statement saying "I
like kids" as the reason for applying to a camp is also not awe
inspiring. Put some thought into why you want to work at a camp job in
general and specifically at whatever camp you're applying to.
no-no are lots of misspellings and grammatical errors in the
application, or one filled out in pencil. This is very unprofessional
and shows lack of care. If an applicant can't take the time to fill out
an application properly, will he or she want to spend 24/7 living and
working with kids? Probably not...
What are some good things an
applicant can do? We are currently working with a male applicant. He
has been great at following up, making sure we received his application,
thanking us via e-mail after a phone interview, and quickly getting us
any more references that we need. His references tell us that he a high
character guy and works hard at what he does. There is nothing wrong
with being persistent. It shows real interest in taking a summer camp
Lastly, and this goes back to several of my blog entries. When thinking
about working at camp, and during an interview, applicants need to be
ready to be a team player, filling in wherever the camp needs them. For
instance, the guy I was just talking about will probably get an archery
certification (our camp pays for this) as we need help in that area.
Archery was on his list of possible activities he could teach, but lower
on the list. Applicants, if they really want to work camp jobs, need to
be "ready, willing and able". That's the motto at Maine Arts Camp.
Good luck in the search for the right camp or summer camp job!
Owner/director, Maine Arts Camp
Owner of MySummers (the best staffing site for summer camp jobs)
Owner of Camp Finders, a personalized sleepaway camp referral service (since 1994)